We hosted our virtual parent-teacher conferences two weeks ago. Luckily, our conferences in the spring were also virtual, so I knew what to expect. But I have some general tips and some new ones for you this time around!

1. Have an agenda.

This doesn’t have to be a formally written agenda, like you might post on your whiteboard for each class. Instead, what I mean is have a rough outline of what you’d like to cover during the conference, and share this with the family verbally. They’re probably nervous and don’t know what to expect for the next 10 minutes of Zoom time, so eliminate this uncertainty by telling them. I introduce myself (or say relevant hello’s if I already know them), then I say I’d like to spend the first few minutes sharing their student’s grades and giving academic and social feedback, and then spend the last few minutes answering questions or coming up with any relevant plans.

2. Listen more, talk less.

This one is SO difficult to do on Zoom (ugh, that dreaded “Zoom silence”!!). Over the years, I’d say the majority of my students share how their classes are going with their families, so not everything is a surprise during conferences. Families usually have access to digital grade books, so they want to know information that’s not on there. And conversely, parent-teacher conferences aren’t all about you just disseminating information to families, these conferences are also a time for you to ask for information or insights on your students! I’ve often learned key information about why a student is struggling and what’s worked well in the past to fix it, just because I simply asked.

3. Can we stop calling them “parent”-teacher conferences?

This is more of a rant than a tip … BUT you’ll notice I went to great lengths to avoid using the word “parent” in my descriptions. When talking about the upcoming conferences with your students, refer to their “family” instead of “parents” if you’re not sure who’s coming. It’s just a tiny change, but it can make all the difference to students who have someone besides “mom” or “dad” attending.

Does your school do virtual parent-teacher conferences? Do they call them something else? Let me know!

Happy that student support has many different faces,


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