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Countdown to successful family-teacher conferences By @VictoriaTheTech

Visit the Educator Center

I’m in the process of completing some new courses on the Microsoft Educator Center in anticipation of completing my Microsoft Innovative Education Expert application (which I’m writing about here on this blog), and was pleased to find this one titled Countdown to successful family-teacher conferences. It was published in April of 2021, and I was able to complete the course on May 8th, 2021!

Look to the Future of Family-Teacher Conferences

While schools and districts may have already held their family-teacher conferences for this school year, it’s important to look to the future to see what can be implemented in family-teacher conferences for next year. 2020 and 2021 were school years that were unlike any other and with the various school changes due to remote, hybrid, and the return to face-to-face instruction, there are certain things that I honestly do not see going away (such as virtual conferences on Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, virtual language translating when an in-person translator is not available, an emphasis on the whole child and goal-setting instead of school and student data, and student-led conference initiatives) that we need to prepare for. And, honestly, this shift makes conferences better in my opinion!

Student Led Conferences

Students are not just numbers on a spreadsheet and not only should we be honoring and acknowledging their humanity in the classroom, but they should be active participants in conferences as well. In particular, my district does student-led conferences, which I’ve talked about on the Teachers On Fire roundtable podcast here.

Because of this, I really enjoyed taking this course–it’s designed specifically to give educators an understanding of how to use Microsoft tools to plan and carry out a successful conference that is centered around the students, and collaborating with family members on how technology tools are used in the classroom. For example, the course speaks about designing personalized learning experiences in Microsoft Teams to reach each student in the classroom, and using Microsoft Translator for students and families who are in need of translation services during the conference (which I have personally used in the past with success), among others. Additionally, something that I really appreciated about this course was that it was designed for both remote and face-to-face settings, and I can even see its merits in a hybrid learning environment. It is also applicable across ages and grade levels; a first grade teacher will get just as much use out of this course as a high school teacher.

If you’ve got the chance to take the course and would like to add another course to your list, I recommend checking this one out, especially if you are a classroom teacher. It will give you valuable insight into how to use Microsoft tools to enhance your family-teacher conferences!

About the Author

Victoria Thompson is a STEM Integration Transformation Coach at Technology Access Foundation–a nonprofit leader redefining STEM education in public schools–a consultant for Ignite EdTech, and a learning specialist for NCCE. She has been in education for five years and began her journey teaching fifth and sixth grade math and science in Summerville, SC. After completing her masters degree in curriculum and instruction she moved to the Seattle, WA area in 2018, where her career has pivoted to focusing on STEM integration in schools, K-12 mathematics instruction with research on decolonizing mathematics curriculum for teachers and learners, creating inclusive math environments, and using technology to bridge equity gaps in math education. She has presented at ISTE, ImpactEducation, CUE, and DigCitSummit on topics such as creating inclusive math classrooms, culturally responsive STEM education, and equity in educational technology.

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