Teacher conferences are valuable opportunities for teachers and families to collaborate on student success, so it’s no surprise that many schools would like to increase the attendance and productivity of teacher conferences. Thankfully productivity and attendance are linked: the more productive conferences are, the more likely families are to attend. Here are a few simple steps you can take to encourage families to attend and ensure that conferences are productive when they do.
Allow families and teachers to own their conference schedules
A common complaint of families is that more time is spent waiting in line rather than in actual conversation with teachers. To avoid a free-for-all of long lines that leave families frustrated and teachers giving hurried conferences that lack substance, post conference time slots online ahead of time.
Using software like jmc’s Teacher Conference Scheduler, teachers can block off slots ahead of time when they will be unavailable due to meals and meetings so families won’t be waiting unnecessarily. Teachers also have the ability to override appointments and block time slots on behalf of families, allowing them to plan extra time for conferences that will need to be longer instead of keeping the next family in line waiting.
Once the modified teacher conference schedule is posted, families can sign up for time slots that best work for them. Allowing families to create their own conference schedule will increase attendance, especially when they know they won’t be waiting in long lines.
Conference productivity = higher attendance
Families want to know that their time will be well spent, so ensure they are given valuable information. A simple way to create productive conversations is to plan ahead to talk to families about a specific assignment.
Have teachers pick an assignment to show parents that reflects a skill they recently taught and use it as an anchor for the conversation. Instead of speaking in general terms, teachers will have a recent, concrete example to reference and parents will enjoy seeing their students’ work before it gets crumpled in a backpack.
Another excellent way to foster productive conversation is to give a preview of what you’ll be teaching next along with a concrete way families can help. Families want to be involved in their students’ education but often don’t know how to be, or have to rely solely on information their student may or may not give them.
Involving the family doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. For example, it can be as simple as checking how many minutes they read a book or asking to see their math homework to check that the student showed their work.
If families and teachers leave feeling their time was well spent, they’ll enjoy a renewed sense of partnership in their student’s success – and the likelihood they will attend the next teacher conferences increases.
Want to learn how jmc can help your school increase productivity with teacher conferences? Check our our latest YouTube video on Fostering Collaboration with jmc's Teacher Conference Scheduler.