Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stop Painful Parent Conferences - You need an Action Plan

It is that time of year...pool, fireflies, and skipping seniors.

Inevitably I end up with a small group of students in danger of failing computer science because of a ridiculous backlog of missing work. Especially if the student needs the class to graduate there can be a lot of pressure and friction in this situation.

A few years back, after a particularly ugly round I had a brilliant idea - the action plan. I use this strategy to inject sanity into these stressful parent interactions.

It is a two step process.
  1. I have the students sign a plan that lists all the work they need to turn in.The key to this is use specific due dates. Don't do the work on time? You don't pass.
  2. I get them to sign it and mail a copy home, then call to let the parents know it is coming. Every time they miss an appointment to do the work, I call home.
I cannot begin to tell you how many headaches this avoids. Parents know exactly what is coming, and the student has an exact plan for how to improve the grade. Most of my students now successfully finish their step-by-step plan and end up passing.
For a kid that has fallen behind seeing a list of items listed by date takes an overwhelming problem and makes it doable.

And for the kids that don't do it? It creates perfect documentation of how I tried to help them pass. It has removed almost all of  the tension form those end of the year parent conferences.

You can download a copy here.

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