Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Parent-teacher conferences can be pretty intimidating for families. They’re sometimes walking into a situation where they don’t know their child’s teacher very well or aren’t up-to-date on what their child is learning in class.
Teachers can also dread this time of year. They might plan a detailed overview of a student’s progress for the short time they have to conference, only to be met with unexpected questions and not have the right information handy to answer them.
So, how can both families and teachers go into conferences feeling confident and prepared? With a little homework of course!
If you’ve flipped your classroom (or your back-to-school night), you know how practical it is to have students learn new content at home, in order to come to class ready to dive deeper into a subject.
With flipped conferences, the idea is the same. Providing families with resources before a parent-teacher conference is a great way to have authentic conversations and establish collaboration between families and teachers.
We’ll walk you through the steps for flipping your parent-teacher conferences to engage your students’ families and guardians and to maintain good relationships throughout the year.
Step 1: Decide what goes in the video
A flipped conference shouldn’t replace the in-person experience. The face-to-face conversation between families and teachers (and sometimes students!) is a crucial way to build trust and understanding.
A flipped conference should provide families with the right information so that they can prepare questions for teachers with plenty of time.
While many teachers already do this through letters or blog posts, video can take flipping to a whole new level by making things more personal. Families are way more likely to watch a video if they can see and hear you explain the content directly to them.
With video, teachers also have the freedom to record their computer screen and use documents or slides as visual aids while they talk.
When deciding what to discuss in your video, think about what general topics you can address in an online format so your conference time is devoted primarily to talking about the student.
Start by giving families an overview of the projects for that quarter and the expectations you have for your students. You can even include helpful information like what extra credit assignments you’re currently offering students to help them catch up.
We also recommend you go over teacher jargon that a parent might not be familiar with like “rubric” or any testing acronyms. They might seem obvious to you but just like students, parents come in with a variety of experience with the education system.
If your conferences include your students, create a video that reviews the questions they’ll be asked and give concrete examples of how they can answer them.
This will not only make students feel less anxious about the meeting, but also give them more ownership of the discussion (it’s all about them after all!).
Step 2: Create your videos
You don’t have to have the directing skills or budget of Ava DuVernay to produce a great video. Screencasting tools make it easy and economical.
Tools like Screencastify let you record anything that is happening on your screen and turn it into a video. If you're looking to create a more dynamic video by using a digital whiteboard, check out Explain Everything.
Both tools have free versions and, here’s the best part, they both let you upload your video directly into Edpuzzle!
Use Edpuzzle to make the video extra engaging by embedding notes to clarify something you’ve said or direct parents to extra resources.
Most importantly, make sure to add some open-ended questions so families can communicate any questions to you.
Use Edpuzzle’s analytics to see what families have seen the video and if they’ve left you questions, so that you can have your answers prepared when the day of the conference comes.
If you think families need extra support for the meeting, send them a video like this one:
It goes over simple tips and best practices to ensure that families are not just prepared for conferences, but also motivated and empowered to attend.
Step 3: Send your homework
What’s the easiest way to share your video with families? Create an Open Class in Edpuzzle.
With an Open Class, you don’t have to worry about families creating an account and logging in to the platform. Because anyone can join with a class code, it’s perfect for flipping your parent-teacher conferences.
We recommend you assign the video alongside whatever conference-scheduling tool you’re using. Just make sure to give families enough time to watch the videos and that’s it!
Families will appreciate the opportunity to take in the information at their own pace. Also, who doesn’t love getting to watch a video as homework?
Step 4: Enjoy your conferences!
Once the day of a student’s conference arrives, you’ll find that your prep time has been cut in half and you're actually excited to have your conference!
All you need to do is go back to the video you've assigned, read the families’ questions, find the relevant data, and be prepared to answer the question.
Flipping the conference makes it possible to accomplish the goals of the meeting without making anyone feel powerless, and that’s a win for families, teachers, and ultimately, students.