Parent Interviews
No Stress When You're Well Prepared!!

Teacher - Parent interviews are a terrifying time for Samuel who was a first year teacher in Michigan. Here's his question.

Writing report cards was very stressful but I was terrified of the first term interviews with parents.

I didn't know what to expect and I also had parents say to me " I didn't know that" and "Why didn't you tell me about my child's progress before this?"

Honey, how do you prepare yourself for these interviews?


Samuel, believe it or not, I loved interview time, but hated those dreaded report cards!

As you read through the different pages of my website, you'll realize that one important goal of mine is to get to know my students in my class quickly - both academically and personally. So by teacher parent interview/conference time, I'm extremely organized and well prepared.

Here's a list of things I did to help me, all of which you can find in detail throughout my website, but let me summarize:

1. I start right at the beginning of the year by keeping a folder section in my desk. Each student has their own folder where notes from parents, tests, significant papers or assignments, etc. were kept.

For years I did it that way, but then I bought a shelving unit which held 30 thin shelving sections (8 1/2 x 11 or so) which made it much easier to organize and refer to.

My "Student of the Week" was responsible for sorting tests, assignments, etc. and putting each student's work into their assigned slots. They loved helping out. Remember, I just taught in my class and my students did everything else!

2. If you recall, I mentioned that the student agenda was "My Bible", where I wrote to parents - concerns, problems, positive comments and they would respond back to me. (Notes on paper get lost).

Then, if parents commented about not being aware of any situation, I could just refer back to their child's student agenda and show them where they had signed off on a test, assignment, project, etc.

Now you can see why the student agenda was "My Bible"?

3. Another thing you can do before the parent interviews is talk to your students' previous years teachers or check their OSR (their personal file containing all their report cards and other pertinent papers). Get a heads up on certain parents - always be prepared!

4. The best thing I did years and years ago was to have my students bring their tests home (after taking it up in class) and have the parent(s) sign and return it to me. Having parent(s) sign both the test and the student agenda is double proof that parents are aware of how their child is doing - they must be held accountable too.

5. To keep parents well informed on their child's progress, I also created rubrics for special assignments, projects, presentations, science experiments, etc. that was sent home for the parents to sign. Please read my page on rubrics to get more details.

P.S. If their test or rubric wasn't signed and returned to me within two days, I called the parents to ensure that they had seen their child's mark or my comments. If you know that some of your students never return materials that were to be signed, make sure to photocopy them beforehand.

6. The last thing to mention here is that I also sent home a monthly report that was signed by the parents and returned to me. This required a bit of extra work on my part, but was a major asset for report cards. The monthly report is basically a check list of the student's work habits and behavior. Please read my page on student assessment for more details.

Wow Samuel, I didn't realize that I wrote so much and did all that in being ready for parent interviews until I answered your question. After a while it becomes automatic. REALLY!

Please start off slowly. Decide what works for you and your kids. Play around with my ideas. Let me know how its going.

Good Luck!

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