Plan for Parent-Teacher Conferences with these 3 Steps

Plan for Parent-Teacher ConferencesThis Glow and Grow strategy will be the perfect solution as you plan for parent-teacher conferences this year.

Both teachers and administrators are always trying to figure out the best way to ‘do’ conferences.

Some schools host parent-teacher conferences in the gym or auditorium area where teachers all sit at tables in a large circle (like attending the booths at a convention). Other schools ask teachers to stay in their rooms and meet with students and parents on a first come first serve basis. Then there are other schools that shut school down for the day and spend the whole day in scheduled conferences or group conferences with parents and students.

Student-led conferences, teacher-led conferences, parent-led conferences, teacher-team conferences…the conference style and type change, but the importance and quality of the discussion doesn’t have to.

Today we are providing a 3-step strategy for helping your conferences run a little more smoothly. This framework will work whether a group of teachers are talking to the parent, the student is present, or even if the student is leading the conference, these 3-steps will still work.

To make this process even easier, make sure to download the Free Glow and Grow Resource here!

Step #1 | Glow

Conferences are often hard and overwhelming for parents, specifically if the child is in any way acting out, and especially if the parent has to meet with multiple teachers. When that is the case, a parent might spend the whole night hearing about all the awful things their student is doing…and that can make for a really long night.

That is why Glow is step #1. 

In this strategy, we always start with positives. We want to spend time highlighting all the good things the student has done and we want to do that with examples. Let’s make ’em ‘GLOW.’

Spend time considering and sharing the good things the student did first, and then focus on coming up with examples. 

Rather than saying that Robert is a good listener, try to come up with an example of a time that Robert was particularly good at listening, or if Robert has been earning extra positive behavior rewards, then (if Robert is present) give Robert some time to explain what kinds of nice things he has done to earn those rewards.

Starting on a positive note and spending some real time highlighting the student’s ‘glowing’ moments will serve the conversation well and bring pride to both the parent and student. The student may also begin to notice just how much you are paying attention to them. This can also go a long way to building relationships and making connections.

When creating your glows and grows for your students, consider revisiting the 6 Qualities of a Good Learner. Use these as a foundation for your conversation in an effort to address the whole student.


Step #2 | Grow

Parents need (and want!) to know areas for improvement. Instead of calling these things weaknesses, call them areas for growth (GROW).

As you plan for parent-teacher conferences and consider the areas students need to improve, always refer and present them as areas that you would like to see the student grow. 

Again, we always want to give examples if possible and make sure that the areas of growth are not just accusations and a list of crimes. 

Consider saying something like this…

(to the student) ”Robert, I feel like you’ve been pretty chatty in class, and I think it is interfering with your ability to hear the instructions. What steps do you think you could take to improve on that?”


(to the parent) “One area of growth I’d love to see Robert improve on is putting himself in situations where he won’t be distracted or tempted to talk to others during instruction. I’d love Robert to take the initiative to remove himself from those situations if possible. Do you have any ideas that may help?”

Plan for Parent-Teacher Conferences Tip: Create a ‘Library of Strategies’

Some teachers find conferences difficult or they get anxious talking to the parents. If this is you, here is an insider tip. Create a library of strategies and ideas that you can refer to throughout conference. Maybe you can do this as a team of teachers for each grade level. The list could include books to recommend, in-class strategies, and strategies for the home. This library of strategies will help you feel more prepared and ready to provide parents and students with ideas no matter what their concerns.

Plan for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Step #3 | Set or Review Goals

Depending on the time of the year, the third step of this framework is going to look different. At the beginning of the year, step #3 is all about setting goals, and in the later part of the year, it is about reviewing goals.

Use the Glow and Grow forms to document the conference conversations and create goals with students. Then, take the time during conferences to review those forms. 

This would also be the time to review school-related goals, IEP goals, or personal goals the student set earlier in the year.

Depending on the student, step #3 may be a part of the Glow process of this framework or it may be a standalone time after you’ve already moved through the Glow and Grow process, but it is important to review the actual goals and data that help both you and the school make decisions on behalf of the student.

If this is the first conference of the year, help the student set personal goals (both academic and behavioral). If the student has many areas they need to work on, only focus on one or two areas to begin with, and then if you set any additional goals before the next set of conferences, add them to the student’s Glow and Grow conference sheet to review with parents in the spring.

Planning for Parent-Teacher Conference Suggestion: Let parents help with goal setting

In addition to student and school goals, the parents may have a goal they want to see the student achieve.

For example, they may want the student to try a new activity this year or do one nice thing for someone else each day. Giving the parents a chance to set a goal with the student based on their own values can go a long way to understanding the parent’s expectations and what the student’s family feels is most important.

Option: As you plan for parent-teacher conferences as a team, send out an email for parents or send something home in the folder asking them to set a goal for their student. You can even include a list of goals to help them come up with something. Include academic, social, and even philanthropic goals as part of the list to highlight what you as a team believe is important for students to learn (and do) at a young age. This will give the parents some time to think before conferences.

Conferences don’t have to be overwhelming and disorganized, and if you plan for parent-teacher conferences using a strategy like this 3-step Glow and Grow process, you will be able to keep the conversation focused no matter what your conferences look like. 

Using the three steps in this process, Glow, Grow, and Goals, you’ll be able to keep your conferences moving and give everyone present a chance to shine.

Make sure to download our FREE Glow and Grow Editable Conference form in the store to make this process even easier!

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