Parent Teacher Conference (PTC) time is approaching! Have you had your PTC yet? Not sure where to start or what that looks like for your setting? As a Co-Teacher I follow the same steps and practices for conferences that would work for all teachers. Keep on reading to see how I prepared for my parent teacher conferences with my co-teacher.
In person, Virtual or via Phone?
First, we decide how we will conduct Parent Teacher Conferences. It can be in person, via phone, or virtual (my favorite!). It can be all or none. You can give parents choices or decide to hold them all via phone. Truly, this has to do with a lot of factors. Parent availability, how many students you have, deadline for conference, holidays, etc. must be taken into consideration when deciding. I have done all three ways of conferencing. This year my co-teacher and I chose to hold them virtually. If a parent requested to meet in person, that would be okay too. Virtual conferences allowed us more flexibility and I believe for the parents as well. They didn’t have to leave work they may have only needed to step out or call during their break. I love that we get to see the parent and show them student work samples.
Next, we sent out the email with the date/time and the link to join virtual. Another great option is to send out an sign ups via Sign Up Genius or something similar. I know some Apps have signs up available within them if you already use an app for communication. I teach Pre-K, so I give parents reminders about conferences in person whenever I can. In addition, I recommend you send a reminder to them a few days before. Some ways to send a reminder can be: an email with the time/date, a reminder sheet attached to folder, bracelet or stickers that go on backpack or student, and/or phone calls. Communicating in advance that there is a conference coming up and that the time/date work for them will save you more time in the long run.
What to Prepare
The goal of a conference is to have open communication with the parents to work as a team to support the student. For the conference, you will want to have a copy of recent assessments, IEP progress, a list or conference sheet with students strengths, areas an improvement and a couple of things you would recommend parents do with him or her at home. For my Pre-K 3 and 4 year old; my co teacher and I had two assessments, and a conference sheet that summarized all the main points including social skills. These were all sent home to parents after the conferences. We also meet together prior to our conferences to fill out the conference forms together. Check out these Data sheets.
Be on time, and prepared! My co-teacher and I are both together for all of our conferences. We begin the conference by talking about the students strengths and then follow up with the assessments. I also like to have some student samples on hand to share with parents. My co teacher and I take turns talking and truly treat each student as “ours”. In out co-teach setting we have 21 students; five of which have IEP’s and two of which are only three years old. I have my caseload of the five that I write IEP’s for but even for that I always (and legally) collaborate with my Gen. Ed. Co-Teacher.
I enjoy the co-teach aspect of it because I like how my co-teacher may notice something I didn’t and or provide a different perspective. I really noticed this during our conferences when we would talk about our students. We have one folder we share for each student. If there are any behaviors or concerns, make sure to make a plan with the parent on how to address/track it. Also, if there are any huge concern the parents should already have been made aware. The teachers would have been communicating with the parents about that already. End the meeting on a positive note. Usually, suggesting at home activities that can be done. In Pre-K, we like recommend that parents read to students nightly, encourage independence, and practice shapes/letters when out in the community.
Remember Your Why
Remember why you became a teacher. You are here because you make a difference in students lives. Remember that parents almost always want to do what’s best for their child and want to have that open communication with the teacher. Put yourself in parent’s shoes when thinking about how to word something. If you’re unsure ask an administrator or a counselor for some help. If you are a resource teacher you can attend the General Education Teacher conferences ( just ask or let her know). If you’re self-contained you can always invite others that work with that student as well such as a General Education Teacher, OT, PT, or Speech Therapist.
Overall, remember to be on time, be prepared, have work samples, assessments, and most importantly enjoy talking to the parents. It’s nice to hear from parents, especially those you rarely hear from. The goal is to work as a team to support that student fully. Special Education Teacher can and should be included during conferences and have an equal voice. We are all a team working towards the same goal. Happy PTC season!