How can we make conferences more productive without creating more work and undue stress?

Earlier this week, EdSurge published a blog on how to use technology to “reinvent” parent teacher conferences. I must admit, their suggestions are fantastic, and I would LOVE to implement some of those ideas in my schools.

Our Parent/Teacher Conferences

We use SignUp Genius to schedule conferences.  Teachers can block off breaks, lunch, and classroom time for themselves, while parents are left to decide what time suits them best.


Conferences are a maximum length of 10 minutes.  Why? We meet with EVERY students’ parents, not just high risk students.  Unlike, EdSurge’s suggestion, we do use this time to go over test scores, including STAR Reading, IXL, and class grades.  Other concerns, such as accomodations, are scheduled at other dates.

Because we meet with every students’ parents, we split the conferences up into two days. K-5 on one day and 6-8 on another.  Students do not have school on their conference day to allow teachers the ability to meet with all parents themselves.

The first conference of the year, at the end of the first nine weeks, parents only meet with the students’ homeroom teacher.  For self-contained classes that teacher teaches them all subjects, but starting at 4th grade, they have different teachers.  Some teachers plan their conferences together. Others have grade level meetings to decide what needs to be shared with the parents of each student.

Conferences in the latter part of the year focus on individual subject areas and high risk students.

Our philosophy is always to start and begin with something positive.  We understand that there may be negative feedback that comes up in a conference, but it is also imperative to focus on what a student and his/her parents are doing right – this helps create a community of learning among all stakeholders.

How does your school handle parent/teacher conferences? Does your school employ any of the suggestions given by EdSurge?