For teachers, parent-teacher conference weeks mean hours of preparation and days of back-to-back meetings. They also have to rearrange their family’s typical evening schedule on conference days. On those especially long days, a gesture of appreciation means a lot. Here are a few ways parent groups have supported teachers during (and after) this busy time.
Make Survival Kits
Make survival kits for teachers including items like aspirin, hand sanitizer, and a high-energy snack. You can use these tags made for plastic zipper-top bags or place items in a glass jar and decorate it with a customizable label.
For more gift ideas, see our We Love Teachers! board on Pinterest.
With conferences going into the evening, teachers often need to make childcare arrangements for their own children. Consider having PTO volunteers or high school students watch teachers’ kids during evening conferences. Poll teachers and find out how many would use this type of service. Decide whether to open up the babysitting to students during their parents’ meetings, as well. Be sure to find out if volunteer background checks will be needed.
Schedule Chair Massages
Make arrangements with a local massage therapist to provide chair massages to teachers. Have a sign-up sheet. If it’s too difficult for teachers to take a break on the day of parent-teacher conferences, schedule the chair massages for the day after.
Hours of back-to-back meetings can leave teachers hungry and low on energy, so it’s common for parent groups to provide snacks or meals. If your PTO or PTA would like to provide food for teachers during conference week, the first step is to find out what the teachers’ schedule is like. If teachers have a meal break planned into their day, you might want to provide food in the teachers lounge. If their meetings truly are back-to-back all day, you’ll want to offer portable food they can eat in their classroom.
Pay for a catered buffet from a fast casual restaurant or have parents provide certain dishes. Popular choices include burritos, sandwiches, a salad bar, or a potato or soup bar.
If catering a meal will cost too much, consider asking parents to bring dishes for a potluck dinner. Have parents sign up and indicate what type of dish they’ll bring, and be clear about when they should drop off their dish. If you have access to refrigerator space, it’s fine to allow parents to drop off dishes when they bring their child to school in the morning. If you won’t be able to use a refrigerator, ask parents to drop off the food at a set time in the afternoon. Line up a volunteer to heat dishes that need to be served warm.
If it will be hard for teachers to leave their classrooms, take orders for sandwiches or other easily portable food in advance. Have volunteers deliver the food to each teacher’s classroom before conferences begin.
Nutritious snacks can help keep teachers going during long days. Some parent groups provide drinks and protein-packed snacks like energy bars or string cheese. Place snacks in the teachers lounge with a note. If some snack items need to be refrigerated, mention what they can find in the fridge.