Six Tips For Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are important for so many reasons. They are an arranged meeting with each students’ parents that give you an opportunity to communicate with parents, discuss what you’re working on in the classroom, speak with parents about how students are doing, what they can work on, and set educational goals for the future. 

They can be nerve-wracking if you are a new teacher though. I get it! How do you have an effective parent-teacher conference? What do you say at a parent-teacher conference? 

Here are my favorite tips and tricks for parent-teacher conferences

Get organized

Before the conference, send out forms and request preferred times for parents. Set a schedule for each conference and allow a little time in between to give a cushion for any conferences that might run a little longer. Organize any reports or papers you need for each conference in the order that you’ll be speaking to parents so you aren’t left shuffling for papers when you are with parents.  Students can also help led their conferences. When students are sharing their progress they become more invested in their learning. My students use a Student-Led Conference format to share their data and work with their parents.

Share how the students are doing

This part is more obvious, but remember to include examples of their work. You can include examples of what they are doing well, what they are working on, and what you hope to see them improve on. 

Discuss how parents can help

Have a plan for parents. What can they do at home to support their students? Studies show that the more parents and families are involved in student learning, the better their educational outcomes. Don’t be afraid to ask for parents’ involvement! 

Address parent’s concerns or questions

While it is important to cover all of your topics, you also want to address anything the parents want to cover. There may be things parents notice or that students tell them about struggles that you don’t know about in the classroom. This is the perfect time to bring it up. Listening carefully to them is a great way to show that you care. 

Share how students are doing socially and emotionally

Students’ education is important, of course. But parents also want to hear how students are doing socially and emotionally. Share some fun stories about their child. Do they easily get along with their peers? What about their personality do you love? Parents love talking about their children this way and it shows that you care about the whole child, not just the school work. 

Set goals together

Based on the information discussed in the conference, create goals and a plan of action for the rest of the school year together. Parents will appreciate that you listened to their concerns and are creating a plan moving forward. 

After the conference, make sure parents are aware of how to reach you if they think of any questions later. Then, jot down any notes or observations you made during the conference. This will be a great reference later on about everything discussed so you can remember what to work on. 

It’s totally understandable that you may be nervous about parent-teacher conferences. But if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be flying through them with ease and confidence!  

Looking for more classroom tips? Find out how to create a family board here! 

Family Boards and Why They Are Important

Yes, I teach 5th grade and I still put up a family board! Building a classroom community is important at whatever grade level you teach. Students feel apart when they see themselves represented in their classroom. Having a picture of their family says that you care about them and their family! You care about them as a WHOLE Child, not just their education needs.

family boards

Here’s how to create your own family boards!

I start with sending a note home asking for a photo. You can make your own or get my free family picture parent note below! If we have an Open House or a Meet and Greet, I try to take pictures of families. Some families aren’t as picture crazy as I am! That usually ensures I have at least one photo of each family.

Once we have all of the family notes, I like to decorate a bulletin board with some cute decorations and then add the family photos! These clips work great for easily adding your photos without damaging them.

Students will love seeing their families on the wall (especially if they are having some back-to-school jitters). Throughout the year I add pictures to our board of us in class and the activities we do together. It grows like our class community. We become a family!

Once a Taylor Kid, Always a Taylor Kid!

Here are some different family boards I have had in the past!

This is a great visual of who we are as a class and helps students feel that they belong and are loved at school.

Want some more ways to build your classroom community? Here are some ideas!

  • Create a joint reward for students to work towards. This will encourage them to work together as a team!
  • Have morning meetings. Encourage students to share what’s on their mind, what’s going on in their life, or just anything they want the class to know! They can share and listen to others. You can do this every morning, once a week, once a month. As often as you want!
  • Incorporate group work. Whenever possible, let them work together to build strong relationships and trust in each other.
  • Shout-Outs. Designate a spot in your class for students to go and write something nice about another classmate. You can also add in your own shout-outs when you notice a student doing a good job. Read them out loud at the end of the day on Friday for a great mood booster!

Do you do family boards in your classroom? Let me know in the comments!

Things To Include During Back-To-School Night

It’s that time of year! Students and teachers everywhere are preparing for a new school year. While it is very exciting, it can also leave students and their parents feeling a little nervous because they don’t know what to expect. Back-to-school night is a great way to help ease their worries. 

If you are planning your back-to-school night or open house for your new students, you may be wondering how to make the most of it. This night is usually where you make your first impression and naturally, we want to put our best foot forward. 

back-to-school night

Here are some ideas to make your back-to-school night amazing

  1. Introduce yourself. Do an introductory slide show about yourself or hand out a sheet so that parents and students can get to know you. Tell them about your family, pets, hobbies, where you went to school, etc. This can go a long way in helping them feel more comfortable on the first day. 
  2. Hand out a wishlist. Are there things you need for your classroom? Include a list of things that parents can send in if they want. This is a great way to get additional supplies that aren’t on your general supply list. 
  3. Include volunteer forms. Get parents involved in helping with events or field trips throughout the year. Having sign-up forms ready to go will help you later on when it is time to line up volunteers for activities throughout the year. 
  4. Give students a tour of the classroom. Show them where their desk will be, where they will put their things when they come in for the day, etc. Students will be more comfortable when they know what to expect. 
  5. Have parents write a letter to their kids for them to read on the first day of school. This is a sweet way to ease those first-day jitters. Parents can write a little note of encouragement for their kiddos and you can hand them out on the first day. Parents will appreciate that you are being mindful of their kids’ emotions, and students will be so happy to see they have a note from their parents. 

These bright and colorful notecards are perfect for this activity.

back-to-school night

You can set up a station with the notecards, pens, a sign, and instructions. Parents can do this while the students tour the classroom or you can leave out a “getting to know you” sheet for students to work on during this time. 

Get my free printable sign for the table here! 

Looking for more back-to-school night ideas? Check out my post here! 

What are your favorite things to do during back-to-school night? Let me know in the comments!

How To Create A Classroom Community

It’s time to head back to the classroom and you may be thinking about classroom management strategies. We all dream of having a classroom that runs smoothly and all students have great behavior and feel comfortable and cared for, right? While that may not be possible 100% of the time, (we can dream though, right?) you can still take steps to structure your classroom in a way that supports it. 

When a new school year begins, students generally feel a little nervous to be with a new teacher in a new classroom. That is totally normal! It will take time for them to be comfortable you and feel comfortable in their new school routine. There are some things you can do to help them become more relaxed and ready to learn.

classroom community

My favorite way to do that is to focus on building a classroom community. 

What is classroom community? It is when you create a classroom atmosphere where students feel that they are valued and empowered. They are given responsibilities in the classroom so they feel a sense of importance. Research shows that this type of classroom environment increases student outcomes, increases social skills, and fosters a sense of belonging. 

Wondering how you can create a classroom community? Here are some ideas to get you started!

  1. Have students work together towards an enticing reward. They can work together by following rules, hitting their educational goals, or by simply being kind to others. This builds them build friendships and trust in each other.
  2. Focus on relationships. Building relationships with you and each other will go a long way in helping students feel like they belong. If possible, group desks together, greet each student as they come in for the day,  pair students up for work, play games, share stories during calendar time, etc. 
  3. Assign classroom jobs. This is one of the best ways to boost confidence and a sense of importance or belonging with your students. Assign them a simple job! These can be things like line leader, paper passer, librarian, messenger, etc. Students will love feeling needed, and you’ll love all of the help you get! It’s a win-win. 

If you are looking for a way to incorporate classroom jobs in your classroom this year, check out my Classroom Jobs resource. It is an editable, printable resource for you to create jobs for your students. 

classroom community

Included you’ll get a classroom job log, classroom job descriptions, classroom job labels, and even a classroom jobs application! Such a fun way to get students excited for their new responsibilities! 

classroom community

You can rotate jobs throughout the year or keep the jobs the same for the whole year to for students to build confidence or pride in their work.

Check them out here! 

What are your favorite ways to create a classroom community? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more teacher tips? Check out my post here on how to use STEM soft starts in your classroom this year!

Back to School and All the Feelings that Come with it!

Every August I get the same feelings…nervousness, excitement, exhaustion!! It is like I am starting a new job every year. New lessons, new students, and sometimes new co-workers. You would think by now, after so many years, I would have this down pat. But, every year I get the same feelings. 

Nervousness

Why? 28 new faces staring at me for starters. I want them to like me. I want them to love our classroom. I want them to feel we are a family. 

Also, I really want to be the best teacher I can. I want my students to fall in love with reading, have a curiosity for science, and know they can do anything! 

And every year, I wonder if I can do it. 

Excitement

What is it about school supplies? The new crayons and markers, the beautiful, clean notebooks, and the seemingly endless supply of glue sticks. I LOVE IT ALL!

And what about the room? Everything in it’s place. The books, the desks, MY DESK! Even though it doesn’t stay this way long, I love getting my classroom ready every year. 

Exhaustion

August just might be the most exhausting month of the year. After a summer of not having to set an alarm everyday and not having to stick to a schedule, it is tough getting back into the routine of school life.

But we do. And before you know it, the nervousness eases into comfort, and the exhaustion… well, lets be honest, some days are better than others.

But it is the excitement that grows. The excitement when a student tells you what he or her read last night. The excitement when a student figures “it” out on their own. And, the excitement of seeing your family come together day after day. It’s all worth it!!!

Why You Should Use STEM Soft Starts In Your Classroom

It is time to head back to the classroom! The beginning of the school year is always such a busy time. It is important to get students settled in and used to their new daily routine so that you can use the mornings to catch up on emails, grade, do parent communication, or prep for the day. Having activities ready to go will help you get that important time in the morning to get things done. Soft starts are a great way to do that! 

Soft starts in elementary are a simple way to get students engaged when they come into class in the morning. Students will be mentally prepared for the day with calm, inquiry-based activities.

STEM is the perfect way to do this. It naturally gets students thinking critically and creatively which puts them in the right mindset to get the day off to a great start. Having STEM soft starts ready to go will have your students designing, creating, engineering, predicting, comparing, building, & reflecting on their challenges.  

Ready to use stem soft starts in your classroom this year? here are some ideas of what to include: 

  • House of Cards
  • Pipe Cleaner Bridge
  • Popsicle Stick Catapults
  • Button Towers
  • Packing Peanut Structures

All of these STEM soft start ideas and more are included in my STEM Quick Activities Resource here. 

soft starts

My STEM School Box Challenges Resource includes 12 STEM Challenges that will fit into a school box. These are great for when students arrive to school early. These activities can also be used for STEAM activities, maker spaces, tinkering labs, or after school clubs. 

soft starts

Included in this resource you’ll get: Challenge Labels, Inside the Box Student’s Directions, Teacher’s Page with the directions and materials, and Student STEM Journal. 

soft starts

Other STEM activities included are:

  • Index card towers
  • Army parachutes
  • Fidget spinner activities
  • Building square structures
  • Dominoes diving board
  • Triangle structures
  • Button designs.

Your students will love coming into class and doing these fun STEM soft starts!

If you are looking for more STEM activities to do this year, check out these exciting back to school STEM challenges!

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