6 Ways to Flip Your Parent-Teacher Conferences

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Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/dF6ecK

You know the drill: each fall and (if we’re lucky) every spring, parents are invited into the classroom to visit with teachers and discuss the strengths and the needs of their children. Experiences vary, but not enough in my opinion. In general, this is what often happens:

  • Parents are provided grades or other quantitative data, which teachers often help them make meaning from.
  • Teachers speak to the strengths and needs of the student, based upon this evidence and often, observation and experience as well.
  • Parents ask some questions. Teachers try to answer them.
  • The parents of struggling kids are told how they can work harder or do better. The parents of high performing kids are given some version of a high five and a bit of feedback.
  • All of this happens in a matter of minutes.
  • Sometimes, multiple teachers are at the table at the same time.
  • Often, people on all sides of the table leave the experience feeling less than satisfied.

What if there were a more meaningful way to meet? What if all parents didn’t need to attend a meeting?

What if we re-imagine parent-teacher conferences, using the flipped learning model?

How to Flip Your Parent-Teacher Conferences

1. In the weeks before the conference, invite learners to reflect on their growth and name their needs, using multiple measures. Choose wisely.

2. Challenge students to share their discoveries with their parents.

3. Ask that parents and children work together to craft a set of questions or talking points for your conference based upon this information. They must share this with you one week prior to their meeting.

4. Take time to prepare quality responses and gather relevant artifacts and information that can help you be of service.

5. Let the parents know that you are looking forward to meeting with them and with the student. Share your working agenda, crafted from their questions and talking points. Let them know what you plan to add to the agenda as well. Consider practicing appreciative inquiry.

6. If time is tight, determine which points you will attend to in person and which you might address through email, a phone call, or another visit.

I know, I know, I know….there are all sorts of crazy challenges and unintended consequences at play here. I don’t disagree. Still, I think it’s worth discussing.

So go ahead: tell me exactly how I’m insane. I’d really love to talk about this more. Better yet, riddle me this: how would you flip the parent teacher conference?

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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.

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