Parent-Teacher Conferences are an opportunity for teachers and families to connect.  During conferences, teachers engage with the parents of our 21st Century Learners.  However, the “traditional” conference is becoming outdated.  Isn’t it time we give parent-teacher conferences a 21st Century makeover?

Group Conference
Harvard Family Research Project highlights this successful method:
Teachers and parents meet as a group three times per year. Each parent receives a folder with his or her child’s data and learns how to interpret individual benchmark assessment data and quarterly assessments, understand the child’s standing in relation to the entire class, and set academic goals to be attained by their child. Parents also participate in one individual parent–teacher meeting to review performance data.

Student Showcase
Reed Gillespie, a principal, explains the advantages of a Student Showcase on his blog Mr. Gillespie’s Office:
– An annual event where families, community members and others are invited
– An experience that highlights student work, creativity, discovery, ingenuity, research, innovation, 21st– century skills, and more
– A forum that engages students, families and community
– A means of communicating all the wonderful work our students/children and teachers do
– Opportunities for students to present their work, interact with the public and gain valuable experiences that extend beyond the classroom
– A way for students to connect with members of the community, potentially leading to jobs or other opportunities

Grade-Level Dialogues
This unique approach is outlined on
Grade level dialogues are structured conversations between parents and teachers regarding students’ academic success. In this format, teachers across a grade level host a communal meeting to exchange information with parents and find ways to support each other. Teachers share what the children are learning, how they are learning the content, and what strategies parents can use at home to encourage their child’s academic success.

Student-Led Conference
This was shared by Alain Jehlen at
Ask students to write a letter inviting their parents to the conference.  Students prepare folders of work, comments, etc. for each of their core classes, with documentation from band, special education, standardized testing, their grade and attendance report, etc. They are taught how to share this information with parents and how to seek teacher help during the conference if needed.

Off-Campus Conference
What about those parents who never show up?  Maybe they can’t take time off work, or they don’t have transportation.  Offer to meet them at a convenient location like the public library, a restaurant, or their place of employment.  There’s even the good ol’ phone conference, or its more modern cousin, the video conference.


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