3-Way Conference

It’s parent-teacher conference time!  Conferences are an important opportunity to help build a bridge between home and school.  They are a chance for teachers and parents to express concerns and plan how to address them as a team.  Conferences are also an opportunity to celebrate students’ successes.  But at parent-teacher conferences, one important element is conspicuously missing- the student.


At my school, we conduct 3-way conferences.  Students are included in the conference, and in fact, hold as much responsibility for the conferences as the other two partners-  Parents, teachers, and students working together toward the child’s success.  The 3-way format reinforces our expectation that the students take responsibility for their own education.

How I facilitate 3-way conferences is sitting at one table with the child and their parents.

•Parents are welcomed and pleasantries are exchanged.

•I will ask the child how they think their school year is going.  I may agree with or augment their answer and ask parents for their input.

•The child is invited to show their parents school work which has been collected over the course of the year- mostly benchmark artifacts which will be updated later in the year as evidence of growth.  Parents ask the child questions about and celebrate the child’s work.

•I present a written brief of each student’s strengths and conclude with agreement on one or two goals for each child to work toward over the course of the school year.

Parents seem reassured by the conference.  Teachers feel supported.  And students feel empowered.  3-way conferences help students take responsibility for their own education.

What do you love or hate about parent-teacher conferences?  Would 3-way conferences work for your school?  Leave a reply!

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