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    Conference Scheduling
    By Sue W

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    We have 3 sections of grades K-5 with conferences twice each year. About 3 weeks before conferences information and a sign up form are sent home with the oldest child in each family, informing the parents of the dates and times. We try to have appropriate language forms available for non-English speaking homes. We usually have two afternoon/ evening sessions(usually after a full day of teaching) and one morning/afternoon session. Parents are asked to choose all general time slots they could attend; 8-12 am, 12-3pm, 3-6pm or 6-8pm. The actual conferences are 15 minutes in length with 5 minutes between. The form also asks them to write the name and class of any siblings and if they want to see any specialists, such as physical education, music, etc. Then we have a scheduling session of all teachers and specialists. Each of us has returned family time requests and a form with all 15 minute conferences labeled. First we schedule those conferences needing interpreters at times they are available; Spanish, Cambodia, Sudaness, American Sign. Then we start with the 5th grade, section I and that teacher takes out the largest multiple, 5 conferences for one family for example and chooses a time for his/her conference that fits the parent request and calls it out and then reads the other family names and grade levels. The other teachers choose times before and after the time already chosen.

    Then we go from section to section, grade to grade, scheduling any other 5's, then 4's, and so on. Since we know our families pretty well we go ahead and schedule even those who haven't returned the notes. When we get down to singles the meeting ends, notes are sent home with the specific times and a few days are given to respond. They SHOULD all be acceptable since the parents requested the times, but that gives us the option of rescheduling the multiples if necessary before doing the singles. Each of the teachers does their own singles, trying to plan for lunch or a "potty" break and trying to avoid having any more than necessary for the final afternoon. It may sound a little overwhelming and you really have to pay attention, but it works. The group scheduling takes less than an hour, and gives us some personal choice if we need to allow a double slot of IEP or occasionally if you want to be sure you have someone scheduled next so you can get an overly talkative parent moved on. Some teachers include the child in the conference but that is optional. One improvement that would really make sense would be if we could get a master list made at the original meeting that would make rescheduling easier, we did that in the single section building I worked at previously. Occasionally we have to schedule double conferences for a child of divorced parents at their request. This process evolved over time but probably gets more parents here. No mention is made of it being optional, and phone calls are often made when parents miss their slot to arrange another time.

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