Dear Lesson Plan Toolbox,
Oh my gosh! I can't even begin to tell you the stress and anxiety I'm feeling right now and I don't know what to do. On top of everything going on at school, we are now preparing for conferences. Yes, I totally knew they were coming, but now they're going to be here in a week!
I get so nervous during conferences. I break out in hives and have trouble composing my thoughts. I always feel like parents put me on the spot because I don't know what they are going to bring up. A little glimmer of light this year is that our conferences are being held virtually. However, they are student-led so it is quite a task preparing my virtual learners for their virtual conferences.
Dear Conference Collision,
Conferences! Conferences! They can be one of the most overwhelming times of the year because we work so hard to prepare and yet no matter how much we prepare it seems like it's not enough. Well, I've got some good news for you! You came to the right place!
In my early years of teaching, I used to feel the same way about conferences. I would have a portfolio for each student, goals that the student was working towards, and a copy of the report card. I saved every note, every e-mail, documented phone conversations. You name it, I had it! But the day of conferences I would have butterflies in my stomach and couldn't even fathom eating a meal. However, around year six something changed.
When I was in my sixth year of teaching I developed a solid relationship with a fourth grade teacher that had been teaching at my school for 20 years! I built up some courage and asked her how she ran her conferences. One of the best solid pieces of advice that she gave me was to remember the conference was about the student and he/she should be the main focus. Being that your conferences are student-led, I would suggest providing some time for students to think about what they want to share at the conference. Depending on the age you are teaching, really have the students think about what strengths and areas of improvement they possess. There are many great reflection sheets online for students of all ages. This is a great opportunity to bring in some growth mindset skills too.
I can tell you are a strong teacher because you recognize this part of your job is an area you improve upon. Remember, that communication goes a long way! If you keep parents in the loop so they know what's going on rather than waiting to tell them everything at conferences, you have a much better rapport going into the conference. In the primary grades, we love to send home weekly updates to not only share what is happening but to also bring up specific strengths and suggestions we may have for each student. Parents LOVE this!
I truly hope this helps! If you want suggestions about conference reflection sheets for students, then please feel free to let us know. We are happy to do the searching for you! You can always reach out to us on Instagram (@lessonplantoolbox) if there is anything else you may need.
Lesson Plan Toolbox