Category Archives: Teachers

Parent Teacher Conferences = Tax Season for teachers!

Recently we had a chance to catchup with Lisa Highfill on the topic of parent teacher conferences.  Lisa is an experienced 5th grade teacher who has mastered the art and science of parent teacher conferences.  Talking with her, we learned how much work goes into these brief meetings.  So here is to all the teachers out there with much appreciation for all you do.  Online sign up sheets have a small role to play, but it is really the dedication and effort of our teachers that comes through in this conversation.

Jooners:  How do you prepare for Parent-Teacher Conferences?

Lisa:  There are two parts to parent-teacher conferences.  The first part is to find a mutually convenient time that works for the families and is available for the teacher and school.  The second part is to actual work of pulling the information together and preparing for each individual student’s conference and conversation.

Jooners:  Interesting…Is one more work than the other?

Lisa:  Obviously gathering the information on the student’s work and preparing for goals/accomplishments’ discussion with the parents, is the most crucial work and much more important.  But the sad truth is that more than half of the time allocated to preparing for these conferences, is spent in back and forth emails and conversations for scheduling. It is draining and completely unhelpful to the real goal of focusing on a student’s achievements and challenges.

Jooners:  That is quite frustrating.  I bet no one thinks about how much work just the schedule coordination is.

Lisa:  That is right.   Before Jooners, coordinating the conferences was a full time job! Multiple emails, papers sent home, about two hours trying to coordinate everyone’s calendar and accommodate their wishes, then more notes going back to parents, then a confirmation RSVP back to school and FINALLY….the date was set. Then we started the process of change management!  Needed to accommodate schedule changes, sibling conferences, etc. It took hours.

After Jooners, the only time needed is the time that it takes you to create the sign up sheet and enter the email addresses of the recipients. I’d say probably 45 min. tops including importing contacts and making sure that I have pre-assigned the parents that do not have access to a computer or need a particular slot.
Jooners:  So how much time do you put into preparing and assessing the work of the students?  The stuff that you will present to the parents….
Lisa:  Preparing for the conferences takes many  hours.  Each report card takes at least 20 min to set up and complete and then the assessments needed for the cards take hours to grade and analyze. Very conservatively and confidently, I can say that each child’s report and conference takes at least 1.5 hrs of preparation and I have 33 students.
Jooners: Wow!  Do you have a life around the time of these conferences? 🙂  
Lisa:  Around my house, we call it “tax season” and I am out of commission the weekend and week before conferences. Then of course the actual conference is 30 min. which we have a half day of school schedule to fit them all in.
Jooners:  Well Lisa, thanks for talking with us.  This is an amazing learning for me as a parent of elementary aged kids. Thanks for educating me!
Lisa:  You are most welcome!.  Can you tell this is why I love Jooners? I need to focus on the meeting, not coordinating when to meet!