I survived Parent & Teacher Conferences this past week. My district has this wonderful schedule, Monday is a full day conference day, Tuesday is a normal day with award assemblies, and then we have minimum days on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I have 15 minute conferences all day on Monday, and then from 1:00-3:30 on Wednesday and Thursday. Even with having 32 kids, I still have leftover spots and a break without touching Friday. Friday afternoon turns into a teacher work day for me.
In the middle of October for a solid week we have our conference time spots posted on the office windows. Parents sign up for a time that works best for them. After a week I get my schedule from the office and then fill in the missing families with a time slot. This year worked beautifully, I usually sign up the missing families for my Monday times (and usually they never show up), this year I filled them in on Wednesday and Thursday - they all came! This year I also had a phone conference. I sent home the report card a day earlier, and then called at a specific time to make sure they received it, and to answer questions. It was so simple!
Other things I do for conferences... On the Friday before, I send home a reminder slip for families of the day and time they signed up for. I send home a mass email letting parents know their students are bringing home a reminder slip, and ask them to wait outside our classroom to ensure privacy. Students clean their desks (as best they can), because I tell them that parents almost always look inside their desks. :) Motivation at its finest! On the actual days, I stick a copy of the schedule outside the door in a sheet protector, and place 2 chairs outside in the shade.
As in past years I have additional information for the parents that I go over after we discuss the report card. I try to show parents the difference between what we learned in 1st trimester to what the plan is for 2nd and 3rd trimester, how expectations grow as the year progresses. This year I turned these 2 slides into half sheet pages that fit onto a single piece of paper.
I ask that the students come to conferences, and it's amazing how misunderstandings clear up during our talk. I want students to hear me praise them to their parents. I want them to have a say (in front of their parents) of what they are working on.
What else do you do for conferences?