3 Tips for Increasing Parent Involvement in Parent Teacher Conferences

I recently did a poll on Instagram and found out that many of the teachers who follow me on Instagram struggle to get their students' parents to attend parent teacher 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' parents show up for conferences.

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

1) Give parents a variety of time options.
This might sound super basic and like common sense, but let parents 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 parents indicate ALL of the times that work for them, then I sit down and figure out a schedule that will accommodate all of the parents and my schedule. If a parent 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 parents when their conference is scheduled.

Example of the parent teacher conference sign up sheet I send out. 

Completed sign up sheet and label reminder for parent. 

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 parents 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 parent involvement, so it might be worth it to ask your administrator!

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 parents a short video clip of the student completing a task prior to conferences that are being held over the phone. This will help remind parents 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 parent can reference the work samples as you explain the work during the conference.

Do you have any tips for improving parent involvement in parent teacher conferences?