Want to Boost Participation in Parent-Teacher Conferences? Here’s How. Want to Boost Participation in Parent-Teacher Conferences? Here’s How.

Want to Boost Participation in Parent-Teacher Conferences? Here’s How.

Erin Werra Erin Werra EdTech Thought Leader
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100% participation in parent-teacher conferences.

Not just in one classroom, but in an entire elementary school.

Yes, you read that right. We were pleasantly surprised when a CTO at one Skyward district reported that statistic to us. We wondered what the catch was—rewards, prizes, drawings?

Nope, nothing quite so fancy. You see, all his district did was ditch miniature desks and marathon evenings for virtual discussions in the comfort of each family’s home.

Can you imagine if every school achieved 100% participation at conferences? Making the switch to virtual conferences has the potential for incalculable impact on parent engagement. Here’s why we expect virtual conferences to stick around, and some tools to help your district get started.
 

Benefits of Virtual Conferences

  1. Teachers and families can meet without the commute. They’ll never know you’re wearing slippers and sweats.
  2. No childcare is needed. Meet after kids' bedtime! Bring the baby! Send the kids to grandma’s! Order pizza! Anything goes.
  3. Parents can join from work. For parents working outside the home, one less place to be is cause for celebration.
  4. Masks aren’t necessary. The virtual setting eliminates transmission of germs and allows for open communication, lip reading, and reading expressions or nonverbal cues. For family members with auditory processing or hearing challenges, this can make a huge difference.
  5. Students don't have to stay. Grown-ups can send kids off to play Fortnite or get in some extra studying. (You know which they’ll choose...)
  6. No tiny chairs! Imagine conferences on the couch. (Go ahead and steal it.)
  7. Recordkeeping is easier. Keep notes or capture a screen recording of important information to follow up with later.
  8. Connections are secure. Virtual meeting spaces offer encryption, password protection, and other safety mechanisms.
  9. Schools stay safe. No need to invite new people into secure buildings to look around and learn the nooks and crannies.
 

Skyward Tools to Make It Easier

You have enough on your plate—making the switch to virtual conferences shouldn’t be a daunting addition. These Skyward tools can help you get started.

Conference Scheduler: Make scheduling parent-teacher conferences a breeze by carrying out the entire process in Family Access. Teachers can display their calendar availability for parents, who then select a slot that works for them! Check out these tutorials:

Teacher Power-Up (SMS 2.0)

Parent Power-Up (SMS 2.0)

Qmlativ Conference Updates (scroll until you reach “conference scheduling updates”)

Message Center: The best way to build a strong parent-teacher relationship and set a child up for success is through ongoing communication. You can help parents and teachers develop an ongoing relationship, leading up to and following conferences, with the Message Center. Check out these resources which dive into this important tool:

Quick Hits: Message Center Overview

Teacher Power-Up (Qmlativ)

Teacher Power-Up (SMS 2.0)

Parent Power-Up (SMS 2.0)

Qmlativ Message Center Updates
 

Expectations to Set in Advance

Though switching to virtual conferences brings a host of benefits with it, some expectations should be set before anyone logs in for the first meeting.
  1. Scheduling: Surveys, conversations, and culture all play a role in determining scheduling. If teachers are okay with offering later sessions or using prep time, those decisions can create flexibility the way in-person conferences never could.
  2. Security: Teachers should not video chat on personal devices and should never feel pressured to give out personal contact information. Encourage blurred backgrounds or make a custom, branded virtual background available for teachers who elect to offer conferences from their home office.
  3. Behavior: Set boundaries for all parties involved. This is a brand-new world for families and staff alike, so you’ll inevitably learn as you go. Just like with virtual class, be prepared for anything. If boundaries are crossed, the conference ends immediately.


When parents get involved with their child’s education, great things happen. The recent dive into virtual infrastructure means the stage is set for parents to join educators from wherever they might be, removing one large barrier to making that connection.
 

Follow-Up Resource: Why Parent Engagement Matters So Much (And What to Do About It)

Visit www.skyward.com/parentengagement to learn more.

 


Erin Werra Erin Werra EdTech Thought Leader


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