Our school’s usual parent teacher conferences happen in the hall. It’s like speed dating where each teacher has a small desk in the school hall and parents move from one teacher to another. However, COVID19 means we can’t run our parent teacher conferences in our usual way. So we decided to use Zoom. Overall it was a success. We had 78 teachers hold hundreds and hundreds of conferences.
How we did it
Our school uses the NSW Education Zoom so only people with a Zoom account can enter a meeting room. Each meeting room has a password and a waiting room. The teacher is the host of their own meeting room and they have to let the parents in from the waiting room. We used the following steps to set up the conferences.
- We used Edval for parents to book times. Usually we allocate 5 minute blocks per teacher. This time we allocated 10 minutes so there was enough buffer time to make sure all conferences ran on schedule.
- We created a meeting room for each teacher. In the future, we will use each teacher’s personal Zoom meeting room.
- We created a parent guide to explain how to create a Zoom account and how to join meetings. The parent guide listed all teachers’ meeting room IDs and passwords. We decided to send out meeting room IDs rather than links as it was less overwhelming and easier for parents using tablets for Zoom.
- We created a teacher guide with step by step instructions. We emphasised teachers need to effectively manage the waiting room and stick to their conference schedule.
- We encouraged students to be part of the conference and help their parents with Zoom.
Zoom enabled teachers to share their screens so they can show student samples of work to parents. This would not be possible over the phone.
COVID19 can make us feel isolated. A Zoom parent teacher conference, where you can see each other’s faces, is very valuable in fostering the school-home relationships in these uncertain times.