Our parents' night is always a marathon. Our contract runs from 7am until 3pm. Historically, I have kids stay after school most days until 4pm. Parent's night ran from 6:30-9pm in the past. Then we have a regular 7-3 school day the following day. This year, I'm under the impression that it will run from 6:30-8pm. This means we will go from having 15 minute 'classes' with the parents to having 10 minute classes.
Some teachers who live close to the school go home between the school day and parent's night. This is most likely if they have young children. Depending on whether or not my husband is traveling for business, I might need to go home and let our 3 adopted dogs out. I prefer not to go home because it's a 30 minute drive each way. If I can, I just pack lunch and dinner that day and spend the 2.5 hours of free time having dinner and working on the lesson plans or grading that I would have done at home that night anyway.
Since we have a short time with parents, and because they will visit all of their child's teachers on the same night, I provide a handout with important info as a place for them to take notes as needed. I never have time to cover everything on the handout, but I figure they have some info if they want it. I also invite them to email me with further questions.
Here is a sample parent handout.
I usually just start by introducing myself to the parents and tell them the 30 second version of my teaching career. I let them read the Course Content and Course Requirements sections but let them know that I anticipate the greatest number of questions in the FAQs section. I typically use the full 10 minutes to go over the FAQs and answer any last minute questions. I also encourage them to sign up for one-on-one conferences two months later.
For the conferences, we work a noon-8pm day right before Thanksgiving break. It is another tough day, because we have a normal 7-3 inservice day the following day. The conferences are 15 minutes each and we have two 15 minute blocks that we can take for ourselves to use the bathroom and/or eat dinner. For these sessions, I usually just pull together samples of student work and gradesheets and answer parent questions. I encourage the student to come in with the parent because there is really nothing that the parents and I could do without the agreement of the student. If you do the math, the conference day only allows for time to meet with 30 sets of parents. The average teacher in our building has between 120-150 students. I typically schedule meetings for my most needy students before the website opens for parents to sign-up on their own. That way I am guaranteed to have time to speak with those families.
I'd love to hear your ideas about parent's night and conferences!