If you are still scheduling your parent-teacher conferences through an in-person sign-up sheet, over the phone, or through letters sent home with your students, you should consider making the switch to online conference scheduling. Online scheduling is convenient for both you and parents, and has several benefits.
When you send home a sign-up letter, you have to wait for the child to give the parent the letter, the parent to fill out the response, and the child to return it to you. This can take several days and even weeks. With online scheduling, you can open sign-ups a week or two ahead of time and get responses as soon as the parent sees the sign-up. It allows the parent to sign up at their convenience, making them more likely to remember to sign up.
The Child Is No Longer the Go-Between
It is easy for reminders to be lost by students, or for your student to forget to give an important letter to their parents. With online scheduling, you do not have to worry about your students acting as a courier between you and their parents. Instead, you are able to communicate directly with the parents, eliminating stress in the student and for yourself.
If you have to keep track of sign-ups, there may be scheduling conflicts when two parents request the same conference block. With online scheduling, as soon as one block is taken, it is no longer available to other parents. This not only makes parents want to sign up sooner, but it also ensures that you will not accidentally double book yourself. Additionally, you do not have to resort to assigning blocks to parents. When the parents can choose their own time, it will fit into their personal schedule easier, which parents will be thankful for.
Online scheduling software generally comes with automatic reminders sent to the parents the day before their conference and/or the day of their appointment. This helps busy parents remember what slot they signed up for and makes it more likely that they will show up for their appointment on time. This helps keep your appointments flowing, so you can avoid making parents wait as you play catch-up with later parents.
Allowing your students' parents to schedule parent-teacher conferences online should be a standard practice for most teachers. However, you should remember to follow up with parents who may not have internet access or do not sign up before your scheduling closes.