3 Tips for Increasing Family Involvement in Conferences

Increasing School / Teacher and Parent / Family InvolvementI recently did a poll on Instagram and found out that many of the teachers who follow me on Instagram struggle to get their students' families to attend conferences! I was surprised to see that 65% of the teachers who completed the poll (nearly 400 teachers answered the poll) have less than 50% of their students' families show up for conferences.

Family involvement in conferences is something I've struggled with in past years, but I've been able to increase family involvement with a few simple tricks that I want to share with you all.

1) Give families a variety of time options.
This might sound super basic and like common sense, but let families sign up for conferences at a time that works for them! I like to send out a sign up sheet that looks like this and have families indicate ALL of the times that work for them, then I sit down and figure out a schedule that will accommodate all of the families and my schedule. If a family doesn't return the sheet, I'll call and see they need to schedule at another time (like before or during school hours). I also use little labels to remind families when their conference is scheduled.

Increasing School / Teacher and Parent / Family Involvement
Example of the conference sign up sheet I send out. 

2) Be flexible with conference format! 
Child care and transportation can be hard for families, so it's a good idea to provide conferences in an alternative format if families struggle to get school. I've started doing my conferences over the phone, Skype or Facetime and it's really helped with turn out! This is literally the only way that I've been able to get some of my families to participate in conferences. My principal was really open to letting me have conferences in a different format in order to increase family involvement, so it might be worth it to ask your administrator!

Increasing School / Teacher and Parent / Family Involvement

3) Send home work samples.
If you are going to do conferences over the phone, Skype or Facetime, make sure you send home work samples prior to the conference. I like to send home a few different work samples (normally a work sample from reading, writing, math, etc.) and sometimes I'll also text or email families a short video clip of the student completing a task prior to conferences that are being held over the phone. This will help remind families that conferences are meant to talk about progress, growth, next-steps and what the student is working on at school! It will likely also be helpful so that the family can reference the work samples as you explain the work during the conference.

Do you have any tips for improving family involvement in conferences?