A Guide to Teaching Students Conflict Resolution

A Guide to Teaching Students Conflict Resolution

Face it, there’s going to be conflict in your classroom. It happens in even the most supportive settings. The good news is that it doesn’t have to derail your lesson or your positive classroom environment. 

Give your students the skills they need to resolve their conflicts, and then you can step back and watch your confident, empowered kids have discussions that result in listening and learning- instead of conflict.


Trust the process.

There are steps to effective conflict resolution. Follow this process, or your own variation, and post the steps prominently in your classroom. Refer to the process often whether during instruction, review or as a reminder.

    • Step #1: STOP – Give yourself some time to cool off. Count to 10. Take deep breaths. When you feel calm, it’s a good time to talk.
    • Step #2: SHARE, LISTEN & CHECK – Go to a quiet place with the teacher. Share your feelings. Listen to the other person. Tell the other person what you heard him/her say. Listen to what he/she heard you say.
    • Step #3: KNOW YOUR ROLE. Take responsibility. What could you have done differently to change what happened?
    • Step #4: THINK – What would make the situation better? Brainstorm solutions. 
    • Step #5: CHOOSE – Decide on the solution. Remember that you may have to compromise.
    • Step #6: RESPECT – Thank each other for working on this problem together. Shake hands or give each other a high five or fist bump. 

How big is the problem?

Emotions are a big part of conflicts. It is understandable to become upset at a big problem, but perhaps students don’t have to be upset at a small problem. Teaching children how to regulate their emotions to match the situation is important to teaching conflict resolution. 

    • Something that affects a lot of people and takes a long time to solve is a big problem. Something that can be solved easily is a small problem. Discuss the types of reactions that might reasonably go with each.
    • Compare big vs. little problems using a worksheet where students provide real-life examples. 
    • Place conflict descriptions on pieces of paper and have students sort them into small, medium, and big problems. Discuss how to react to a sample of each.
    • Sometimes conflicts are the result of bullying. Make sure that students understand that bullying is a bigger conflict and that they can go to the teacher with their concerns.


Pair and share.

Pair students for a real-life conflict resolution exercise that gives them a chance to get the perspective of their peers.

    • Ask students to write down a problem they are facing at school or in their personal lives.
    • Students speak for a minute about their issue to their partners. This helps to build listening skills.
    • The partner paraphrases the problem.
    • The pair brainstorm different solutions.
    • The student with the problem chooses one. 
    • Then they repeat the exercise with the other student sharing.
    • For younger students, they can draw about the conflict and share with each other.


Practice makes perfect.

Conflict resolution is an important part of behavior management. Keep it front and center in your classroom with weekly practice. Model different solutions so students know that there are many ways to resolve conflicts.

  • Present hypothetical scenarios to the class and ask for their input.
  • Have students role-play situations and ask for the class to resolve the conflict.
  • Teach de-escalation skills, like taking deep breaths, counting, or taking a walk. Discuss why it is important to be calm during conflict resolution.
  • Play a game where someone deliberately bends the rules, and discuss the options for conflict resolution.


For Younger Students… 

Try a playground peace pathway.

Designate an area of the playground where kids can go for conflict resolution. Start with teacher assistance to help students with their conflict. Ultimately students can do it independently.

    • Paint the step-by-step process on the asphalt with the words for each step along a path (e.g. STOP, SHARE, LISTEN & CHECK, etc.)
    • Make sure there is a place for each student to stand as they progress along the path.
    • Include a celebratory end point, such as “You did it!”
    • Model how to use the peace pathway and periodically remind students that it is there.


Teach with stories.

Stories are powerful teachers, especially to our youngest learners. Use them to your advantage in teaching the core messages about conflict resolution.

  • Choose read-aloud books that showcase conflict. 
  • Discuss how the characters feel. Teach empathy by exploring their different perspectives.
  • Discuss how they ended up managing the conflict.
  • Relate that to the students’ everyday lives.


For Older Students…

Try a decision matrix.

This pros and cons list can lead to less impulsive and more thoughtful, responsible choices.

    • Set up a hypothetical situation such as students teasing a classmate.
    • Have students list the pros of participating in the teasing. They will give a point for a positive outcome to themselves, and points for positive outcomes to others involved.
    • Have them do a similar assessment for cons, but with negative points.
    • Such analyses will help them to determine that there is much to gain by being an ally and showing empathy, and less for participating in teasing or bullying.


Use peer mediation.

Peer mediation has been successful in helping students solve problems. Note however that no matter how well trained the student peers are, there should still be teacher supervision.

    • Ask for volunteers or nominate students to be peer mediators. Have them undergo peer mediation training. Utilize peer mediators when there is a conflict. The group should meet in a quiet area with a teacher but without other students. Sometimes this takes place during lunch.
    • Have the peer mediator team, aka the Peacemakers, look out for conflicts and alert the teacher.
    • Note that not all conflicts are resolved easily or in one session. Allow for those that could take a longer timespan over days.


How to deal with an angry student

There may be times when a student becomes so upset and emotional that he/she cannot control his/her actions. Here’s how to help de-escalate an angry student.

    • Stay calm and polite. Keep your emotions under control.
    • Make eye contact, speak clearly, and do not raise your voice.
    • Give the student a chance to cool off by taking a walk to get a drink and then return.
    • Offer to talk privately with the student during a break or after class.
    • When you meet, listen and try to understand the real issues upsetting the student.
    • Summarize what the student said, and do not disagree with him or her.
    • Ask open ended questions to help the student generate solutions to the problem.
    • If applicable, refer the student for counseling or other help.

Do you have a strategy to share that’s not on this list? Share it with your fellow educators in the comments.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Combating Summer-itis

Combating Summer-itis

Excessive daydreaming, extreme laziness, and failure to turn in homework…it must be the last weeks of school. It seems everyone has a case of summer-itis. But don’t despair. We have the cure for this “mysterious” condition, and the good news is that it comes with plenty of inspiration for teachers, too.


What is summer-itis?

Summer-itis is the lack of motivation at the end of the school year. Similar to senioritis, summer-itis causes students to lose focus and interest in school as they anticipate what’s to come. While it’s difficult to compete with thoughts of summer fun, there are ways to energize and refocus your students. Whether you’re a first-year or veteran teacher, here are some idea starters.


How to combat it.

Take your lessons outside.
Chances are that the weather is beautiful. It’s the perfect time to hold class outside. The fresh air and sunshine will naturally bring out the enthusiasm but you can do so much more than simply bring the books outside. Go on a noun, verb, adjective scavenger hunt. Do math with sidewalk chalk. Try an outdoor science experiment. Explore, measure, journal, and interact with the outdoor environment. The possibilities are endless.

Go on a virtual field trip.
No matter what subjects you teach, there is a virtual field trip (or two or three) for your class. Best of all, there are no permission slips needed! Virtually “walk” through museums, visit a national park, or take your students to Mars. Make sure that the field trip is designed for the ages and stages of your students to get the most meaning from it. Think and talk about the topic ahead of time so that students have context, and then plan follow-up activities so that they may process what they learned.

Play a game.
What better way to review the curriculum from the year than with a game? From knowledge bees to Jeopardy to literature charades and content-based scavenger hunts, there’s a game for every subject. Ask students to create their own questions to make your job easier. Challenge them to create a game to teach concepts to next year’s class. You can find lots of resources for both online and in-person review games.

Increase the incentives.
You and your students both need a little more inspiration. Identify end-of-year goals and set up high-stakes rewards: extra recess, movie time, a pizza party, etc. Try this Wheel of Fortune style incentive: write the secret reward in blank spaces on the board. The class will earn a letter each time they reach a milestone. When they complete everything, they’ll see the reward, such as P-I-Z-Z-A-P-A-R-T-Y. You’d be surprised to see how much this motivates students.

Rearrange the room. Add a touch of home.
A change in environment makes the classroom seem new. Rearrange the desks or just the seating. Move your desk to a new location. Create a nook for reading. Add a home-like touch with curtains, plants, or other décor. Set the tone for calmness or a focus of study with a classroom transformation. Incorporate relaxing music. It may seem simple but these small changes can be effective in getting students to refocus for the last few weeks.

Lean into social and emotional learning.
You taught the main skills in your curriculum area. The end of the year is the perfect time to focus on social and emotional learning. Teach soft skills, from organization and communication to teamwork, gratitude, and kindness. In addition to lessons on these topics, consider a class community service project that can incorporate it all.

Showcase your students.
Give your students a chance to shine in front of the class. Ask for volunteers to teach lessons about a favorite hobby or topic. Give them a framework from which to plan, and work with them on how to create an engaging presentation, whether it’s a PowerPoint, poster, song or demonstration. Also work with the rest of the class on how to respond thoughtfully to the presentation, with questions and positive feedback.

Invite former students.
Colleges end their semester weeks before elementary and high schools, which is a great opportunity to bring your former students in for a visit and Q&A. For younger grades, partner with a teacher in the next grade to have students visit your classroom. These are opportunities for students to learn what’s to come and incentives for them to work toward their future.

Continue routines.
In between end-of-the-year assemblies, field day, and more, it may be hard to stick to your routines. However, it’s more important than ever. Familiar routines will help students to know and follow expectations. Be consistent with discipline. Letting small things slide can quickly unravel into behavior that is out of control.

Be realistic.
It’s the final mile in a year-long marathon. You want to finish strong, but not at the expense of your health and well-being. Prioritize, because you can’t do it all. Practice self-care so that you can be there for your students, enthusiastically through the last day. Then, get ready to celebrate, because after weeks of summer-itis, summer is finally here!



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


Administrators – Supporting Educators & ESPs

Administrators – Supporting Educators & ESPs

Your teachers and educational support professionals are at the forefront, expertly balancing student needs with administrative demands and navigating the educational landscape with grace and skill. They give their all, day in and day out, and you want to make sure they feel supported. Here’s how you can help cultivate a culture of fulfillment and growth.


1. Prioritize the physical and emotional well-being of your staff.

When your staff feels well mentally and physically, they are able to do their best work. On the flip side, when they are burnt out, they have trouble meeting the bare minimum. You can create a school culture that prioritizes mental and physical health.

    • Tap into your staff’s reasons for going into education. Highlight the reasons during staff meetings and professional development. Remind them by celebrating their successes and supporting them through challenges.
    • Encourage staff to practice self-care. Bring in self-care experts for professional development sessions. Organize an after-school yoga session. Provide healthy snacks in the faculty room. Create a library of digital resources on self-care.
    • Reduce stressors that can lead to drama. Address issues sooner rather than later. Get rid of competitiveness. Set up teacher mentors. Facilitate an atmosphere of teamwork.
    • Don’t overload teachers with responsibilities. Allow catch-up days where you don’t plan formal programming. 


2. Be visible and available.

Supportive administrators are accessible and approachable. They are a common presence throughout the school. Faculty and staff have opportunities to interact with them on a daily basis. 

    • Walk the hallways during high traffic times. Be seen by students and staff. Engage them in conversation during recess and lunch.
    • Make it a point to greet faculty and staff by name, so they know that you know who they are. Personally welcome new staff, including substitutes. 
    • Maintain an open-door policy at your office, or if you cannot, post times when you will have open-door office hours. Be accessible before and after school.
    • Drop into the teacher lounge and ask how teachers are doing. 


3. Respect educators’ time.

Educators and support professionals have a lot on their plate. There’s often more work than hours in the school day. Understanding that your staff’s time is valuable will help guide you in managing staff responsibilities and expectations.

    • Submit meeting agendas at least 24 hours in advance. This will allow your staff to have time to review it so they can appropriately respond in a meeting.
    • Do you have straightforward information to share at a meeting? Send an email instead. Just because a faculty meeting is on the calendar doesn’t mean you have to have one.
    • Have a “ditch” meeting. Discuss the activities/responsibilities that can be eliminated. This will allow your staff to focus on priorities.
    • Ask for staff input on professional development days. Work with them to schedule meaningful programming that helps them in their jobs. 


4. Communicate effectively.

Good communication is important. It ensures that teachers and educational support professionals have the information that they need to get the job done. It also builds relationships and eliminates inefficiencies.

    • Create a weekly schedule that goes to all staff. Email the schedule early on Monday morning with the most important information and documents hyperlinked. These can include department meeting reminders, agendas, school events, links for teachers to join a testing session, etc. (Pro Tip: Make it a Google doc and you can provide live updates as things change.)
    • Add faculty birthdays at the bottom of the weekly schedule to celebrate your staff and their milestones.
    • Build in time for peer collaboration. This type of communication gives teachers a chance to share best practices, and gives new teachers the chance to learn.
    • Write a handwritten note to staff members to celebrate achievements and to thank them for their service.


5. Provide resources and tools.

Teachers repeatedly spend their own money for classroom supplies. Investing in high-quality curriculum and providing resources for classrooms goes a long way toward supporting teachers and staff.

    • Find free resources and tools, and educator discounts, and regularly share them with your staff. Ask staff to do the same.
    • Seek sources of funding for educational supplies and programs from grants, PTA fundraisers, community donations, etc.
    • Work with the local library to borrow/access items from books to technology.
    • Post classroom wish lists on the school website so parents and others may donate.


6. Support your teachers’ decisions.

One of the most difficult times for a teacher is when administrator support is lacking when they make difficult decisions on grading or behavior. When parents go over the teacher’s head to the principal, it’s important that the administrator supports the teacher’s decision. Siding with the parent undermines the teacher’s authority. 

    • Meet with the teacher privately to ascertain the extent of the complaint and the reasons that the teacher made the decision. 
    • Determine ahead of time whether any concessions can be made, with the teacher’s support.
    • Meet with the teacher and parent and discuss the situation and possible resolutions.


7. Ensure evaluations are meaningful.

Teacher evaluations can be a source of stress but they don’t need to be. The ultimate goal is to help teachers maximize their effectiveness. Administrators and teachers can get the most out of them when they are done with understanding on both sides.

    • Pre-game with the teacher. Share the evaluation tool. Discuss the upcoming lesson and what you’ll expect to observe. Ask the teacher if there’s anything that he/she wants you to pay special attention to.
    • Send your completed evaluation as soon as possible following the lesson. 
    • Choose just a few high-impact points that the teacher can focus on for improvement. Provide concrete examples of what he or she can do. 
    • Make sure to mention the positives. Praise teachers for what they are doing right.
    • Do not copy and paste from one teacher’s evaluation to another. Not only could it backfire, but each individual assessment also deserves its own evaluation.


8. Listen and incorporate feedback.

Good listening skills will go a long way in managing staff and helping meet their needs. Teachers and educational support professionals have a lot to share. Tap into their “inside track” as the educators on the front lines.

    • Ask for feedback on everything from schedules to curriculum to discipline. Then, listen and take notes. 
    • Discover the “pain points”—the things that are not working well — so that the school may address them.
    • Allow teachers to be part of the decision-making process and you will get their buy-in. You also will get some creative and practical solutions.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Free Leveled Reading Websites – Part 2

Free Leveled Reading Websites – Part 2

This article is written by former New Jersey first grade teacher, Felicia Niven.

Reading is one of the most important skills that we teach. Providing material at a student’s level is key to helping him or her cultivate a love for reading.

We’ve added to our list of leveled reading websites with some new favorites. These sites offer free, high-quality leveled reading passages for your students. For a look at Part 1 of this series, click here.



(Grades K-6)

This site offers educators free access to an expansive digital library of popular books. You can create book collections to share with your students. Teachers and students can search by fiction or nonfiction and Lexile level. There’s also a read-aloud option and a dictionary look-up. However, it’s worth noting that your class login code is only active from 7 am to 3 pm when school is in session. This site is best for in-school use, where teachers can curate the content. Parents have to pay for after-school use and there are mixed reviews about the ability to easily source appropriate grade-level material.


National Geographic Explorer Magazine

(Grades K-6)

National Geographic’s student magazines are no longer in print, but the organization has compiled an impressive selection by grade level on its website. With adventurous names for each grade level, from Pathfinder to Pioneer, the titles alone are inspiring. The issues are beautifully illustrated, taking full advantage of nature videos to illustrate some articles. Issues are both in English and Spanish for bilingual readers. You’re provided passwords and QR codes that you can share with students so they may read on their digital devices. There’s also a teacher’s guide that includes lessons, Lexile levels, worksheets, and assessments for each story. Some stories are even linked to Kahoot quizzes.



(Grades 3-12)

Newsela offers thousands of news articles for free, but you must create an account to access them. Content is aligned to state standards, with 5 different reading levels. Content is well suited for ELA, social studies, and science, and originates from such sources as Smithsonian, Associated Press, Highlights, and Scientific American. Your customized news library is curated by grade level. There is a filter for elementary content so that your students will only see age-appropriate content. Teachers can assign stories and monitor student progress.


Read Theory

(Grades K-12)

Students take a pre-test that assesses their reading level and then are assigned weekly leveled reading practice. The passages are. similar to those found on standardized tests, but sometimes a bit longer, and they come with quizzes to assess comprehension. Students who score well will gradually increase in difficulty. Those who score poorly will be given easier passages to boost confidence. Teachers can track and monitor performance against Lexile Levels. A paid version of this site allows the assignment of customized passages and more activities such as reading competitions.


Reading IQ

(Grades PreK to 6)

While schools have to pay for Reading IQ, you can apply for a free individual teacher account. The site gives you access to thousands of leveled books, fiction, and nonfiction, all organized by topic and grade level. There are picture books, chapter books, biographies, STEM books, and more. The stories have a real book feel, with pages that “turn.” Prereaders have the option for the book to be read aloud to students, and there are also guided reading options. For home access for students and other options, there is a paid version.


Reading is Fundamental

(Grades K-6)

RIF has a collection of leveled reading passages by grade and Lexile level. Texts are designed for independent reading and may be downloaded as PDFs and printed. There are easy, medium, and hard versions of the same content. However, books linked to the texts do come with a cost, if you choose to incorporate those.



(Upper Elementary – High School)

With Rewordify, you can easily take a text passage and create a simpler version. The site highlights and defines challenging words and phrases. This is ideal if you’re trying to accommodate different levels in your class with the same text. Rewordify also offers a range of classic literature, from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer to War and Peace. In addition, there are options for customized word lists and vocabulary quizzes and you can add links to online lesson plans. The free version lets you do a lot, but a paid account is necessary if you want to save and print documents.



(Grades K-7)

Not surprisingly, teachers have developed their own leveled reading passages. It’s worth a visit to TeachersPayTeachers to find options for no-prep digital and printable passages. There are many available for free, and the list is constantly updated.

We’d love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite leveled reading website that you’d like to share? Write it in the comments. 



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Educators Across the Country Receive $1,000 Athletic Grants from California Casualty

Educators Across the Country Receive $1,000 Athletic Grants from California Casualty

California Casualty will deliver $1,000 Thomas R. Brown Athletic Grants to educators at 50 public middle and high schools across 25 states to help support their school sports program(s). Since its inception in 2010, the Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant Program has helped fund burdened athletic programs in 750 public schools across the nation.

The Thomas R. Brown Athletic Grant, named after avid sportsman and California Casualty Chairman, Emeritus Tom Brown, was created based on his belief that lessons learned on athletic fields- teamwork, trust, communication, and confidence- translate in the classroom and beyond. Athletic programs have a positive impact on the students, in turn, positively impacting the schools as these children use the skills they gain from playing sports to become well-rounded students and adults.

“Every year sports programs across the state do more with less. In a small district like ours, this is a very big deal when we know the positive impact sports programs make on our students.” Said one grant application from Washington Colony Athletics in Fresno, CA. “When COVID stopped our athletic program, there was not much to motivate kids to do well in school. Now that we are back playing sports we see grades getting better and the motivation to succeed in and out of class increase. We have a great athletic program that we want to continue to be better.”

California Casualty recognizes the importance of youth sports on children’s physical and mental health. And we are happy to announce that the 2022/2023 Athletic Grants will help specifically fund:

    • Female soccer uniforms and shoes,
      • Lovonya DeJean Middle School, Girls Middle School Soccer Team, Richmond, CA
    • New hurdles and a high jump pit,
      • Preston Middle School, Track and field, Fort Collins, CO
    • Volleyball shoes and kneepads for all team members
      • American Dreamer STEM Academy, Volleyball, Decatur, IL
    • Cross Country uniforms, training equipment, travel suits, and a travel canopy for weather protection
      • Russell County High School, Cross Country, Russel Springs, KY
    • Replace outdated and worn uniforms, new basketballs, and ball racks
      • Poplar Bluff Junior High, Girls’ Basketball, Poplar Bluff, MO
    • Gloves, bats, helmets, catchers gear, balls, bases, and first aid equipment
      • Deerfield Twp School, Softball, Rosnhayn, NJ
    • Tennis rackets and warm-ups for the cold weather
      • Somerset Area School District, Boy’s Tennis, Somerset, PA
    • Team balls, towels, and rosin
      • Lincoln High School, Girls Bowling, Tacoma, WA


A complete list of 2022/2023 recipients follows.

2022/2023 Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant Recipients

C.L. Scarborough Model Middle School – Mobile, Alabama – Volleyball

Palo Verde Middle School – Phoenix, Arizona – Soccer and Basketball
Canyon View High School – Waddle, Arizona – Boys Basketball

Washington Colony Elementary School District – Fresno, California – Washington Colony Athletics
Coachella Valley High School – Thermal, California – Boys Tennis
Rancho Alamitos High School – Garden Grove, California – Soccer
Andrew Carnegie Middle School – Orangevale, California – Wrestling
Lodi High School – Lodi, California – Competitive Cheer
Lovonya DeJean Middle School – Richmond, California – Girls Soccer
Mira Monte High School – Bakersfield, California – Track & Field
La Contenta Middle School – Yucca Valley, California – Volleyball
Buena Park High School – Buena Park, California – Girls Soccer
John Still Middle School – Sacramento, California – Basketball
Mountain House High School – Mountain House, California – Girls Soccer
Arboga Elementary School – Arboga, California – Volleyball, Flag Football, Basketball and Track & Field

Goddard Middle School – Littleton, Colorado – Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field and Wresting
Preston Middle School – Fort Collins, Colorado – Track & Field
Fort Morgan High School – Fort Morgan, Colorado – Girls Wrestling

Torrington Middle School – Torrington, Connecticut – Track & Field

Northview High School – Century, Florida – Track & Field

Wallace Jr/Sr High School – Wallace, Idaho – Swim Team
North Junior High School – Boise, Idaho – Boys Basketball

American Dreamer STEM Academy – Decatur, Illinois – Volleyball
McHenry Middle School – McHenry, Illinois – Golf

North High School – Evansville, Indiana – Flag Football, Basketball, Bowling and Track & Field
North Scott Junior High – Eldridge, Iowa – Special Olympics

Wellington High School – Wellington, Kansas – Special K Basketball
Lansing Middle School – Lansing, Kansas – Volleyball

Russell County High School – Russell Springs, Kentucky – Cross Country

Alexander Elementary School – Alexander, Maine – Soccer

International High School at Largo – Largo, Maryland – Cheerleading

Poplar Bluff Junior High – Poplar Bluff, Missouri – Girls Basketball
Marshall High School – Marshall, Missouri – Girls Wrestling

Wibaux Junior High School – Wibaux, Montana – Basketball

Chase County Schools – Imperial, Nebraska – Wrestling

New Jersey
Deerfield Township School – Rosnhayn, New Jersey – Softball
Hoboken Middle School – Hoboken, New Jersey – Soccer
Elizabeth Middle School North (School 19) – Elizabeth, New Jersey – Girls Soccer

Centerville High School – Centerville, Ohio – Girls Wrestling

Cheyenne Middle School – Edmond, Oklahoma – Special Olympics

Thurston Middle School – Springfield, Oregon – Wrestling
Days Creek Charter School – Days Creek, Oregon – Girls Volleyball

Sharpsville Area School District – Sharpsville, Pennsylvania – Girls Soccer
Somerset Area School District – Somerset, Pennsylvania – Boys Tennis

Atkins Middle School – Lubbock, Texas – Girls Volleyball

Lincoln High School – Tacoma, Washington – Soccer and Girls Bowling
Meadowdale High School – Lynnwood, Washington – Track & Field and Cross Country
Pacific Middle School – Vancouver, Washington – Soccer
University High School – Spokane Valley, Washington – Softball

Natrona County High School – Casper, Wyoming – Wrestling


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


Prepping for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Prepping for Parent-Teacher Conferences

It’s that time of the year again, the time when we share important information about our student’s progress with their families. Parent-teacher conferences are wonderful opportunities to build bridges between home and school. But when you’re faced with doing 2 dozen or more of these meetings back-to-back, it can be daunting.

Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran teacher, here’s how you can prepare for, and organize, your parent-teacher conferences this year.


1. Send a pre-conference letter.

Not only does a letter get parents thinking about conferences, but it can also get them engaged. Include a section that asks for specific questions or concerns that parents want to cover at the conference. There could be a box to check that they have no questions or concerns at this time. See this free sample letter. Manage parent expectations by explaining the conference process and the need to stick to the schedule. Include clear directions on how to sign up for a timeslot.

Pro Tip: Send out the pre-conference letter as a Google form.


2. Schedule enough time.

Not all conferences have to last the same amount of time. Take each student into account and schedule extra time to discuss those who are struggling. You will need to have a more thorough conversation with those parents. You also will want to schedule more time with parents who have a lot of questions. (You’ll know from the pre-conference letters.) Offer flexibility, such as a Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype options for parents who cannot make it to school. They will appreciate that.

Pro Tip: Use a scheduling tool like Calendly or appointment slots on Google Calendar to allow parents to sign up for timeslots that are in-person and/or virtual.


3. Create a script and agenda.

You have a tight timeframe to accomplish a lot. That’s why writing down what you will cover will help. Start by sharing something positive about the student. Then summarize learning goals. Review student grades and work. Share student strengths and areas for growth. Answer questions and give your contact information. Remember that this is just a snapshot, and you can follow up as needed.


4. Gather student work and assessments.

Now that you know what you’re going to cover, it’s time to gather test results and other assessments, work samples, and anecdotal notes for your students. Then you’ll need to separate them by student in folders. Include any behavior concerns. Be honest in a caring way, and stress opportunities for growth.

Pro Tip: Ask students to choose work samples – one piece they are proud of and one where they feel they can improve.


5. Create a waiting space.

Inevitably, parents will show up early or you will run late and they will be waiting. Prepare a sign for the door that tells parents that you are still in a conference. When you are ready for them, you can invite them into the classroom. You also can create a small station where waiting parents can write notes to their children and put them in a class mailbox.

Pro Tip: If you have a classroom device, you can invite parents to leave a funny selfie to surprise their children.


6. Be welcoming.

Greet parents warmly. Sit side-by-side with them as you talk. It’s more friendly and non-threatening than sitting across a desk and sends the message that you are truly partners in their child’s education. Use positive body language. Finally, if parents have to bring their children, have an area set aside with puzzles and quiet activities to limit distractions.

Pro Tip: Prepare for parents who may have a language barrier. In these instances, you can invite them to bring the student to translate or you can ask them to have an interpreter on hand.


7. Encourage questions.

You will likely do most of the talking in a parent-teacher conference. Yet you do want to get parent input. Ask at least twice if they have any questions. Share how they can help their child at home. For example, students struggling with getting homework done can use a planner and parents can check it every night. Make sure that parents have your email address in case they need to contact you following the conference.


8. Remain professional.

You are representing the school. Don’t talk negatively about other teachers or administrators or complain about school policies. Never discuss other students’ behavior. If a parent becomes hostile, don’t argue. Use active listening. Discuss how both parties want what’s best for the child. Invite the parent to a follow-up conversation with you and the administration.


9. Set an alarm.

Your parents may need a cue that the conference is wrapping up. Set an alarm on your phone or another device to ring five minutes before you have to end. This will be a polite reminder that you have other families to see. If more time is needed with this particular parent, now is the time to schedule a follow-up conversation.


10. Practice self-care.

During conference week, you’ll likely log long hours. That’s why self-care is so important. Get enough sleep. Bring snacks and water. Schedule and take bathroom breaks. Plan a low-key, relaxing time leading into, and following, the conferences so that you can recharge.

Pro Tip: Some schools offer free childcare for teachers during conference week. Babysitting is done by PTO volunteers or high school students. Check if this is a possibility.

Finally, consider alternatives to and/or additions to parent-teacher conferences. Student showcases, group conferences, kid conferences, and grade-level dialogues are a few examples of how your district can reinvent the traditional parent-teacher meeting.



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