Parent/Teacher Conferences Setup & Overview

Overview

The Parent/Teacher Conference module allows parents to sign up online for teacher conferences in the Veracross Parent Portal. The module also allows schools to manage and track conference events within Axiom and provide teachers with a conference schedule in the Veracross Teacher Portal.

The following is the basic setup process:

  1. Speak with an Account Manager about the setup of Parent/Teacher Conferences module.
  2. Import the available time-slots using the Veracross Importer Tool at least 3 weeks prior to the launch date.
  3. On the Configuration tab of the Parent Portal detail screen, ensure that the ‘Parent Teacher Conferences’ parameter has a Value that is set to TRUE.
  4. Add a new notification link component on the desired component screen in the Faculty Portal (typically the homepage) and enter {system:teacher_conference_schedule} in the Hyperlink URL field.
  5. Troubleshoot and test this new functionality by creating a school-defined group as a test group, creating a ‘Notification Link’ portal component, and filtering it to only the test group. Typical practice is to have only a few Parents who are known to be good users or are also Faculty as testers during this time before enabling it for the entire school.
  6. Repeat the process in Step Four for the Parent Portal, but insert {system:teacher_conferences} in the Hyperlink URL field instead.

Setup

1. Initial Conversation with Account Manager

When deciding to use the Parent/Teacher Conferences module, speak with an Account Manager to discuss the initial set-up and whether or not the module would be useful for the school. If, during the conversation, it is determined that the Parent/Teacher Conferences module is a good fit for a school, the Account Manager will enable the Parent/Teacher Conferences homepage.

Another important consideration to think about prior to beginning the set-up of parent teacher conferences is which classes and teachers are looking to host them. To be visible to parents when signing up for parent conferences, the course must have the “Include in Parent Teacher Conferences” flag checked, the class must have a status of “active”, and the “Parent Portal Visibility” field must be set to “show.” Only Primary Teacher(s) for a class display as available for conference sign-ups (secondary teachers, aides, etc., do not show up in the interface).

Courses where with a course type of “non-academic” are not included in Parent/Teacher Conference signups.

2. Importing the P/T Conference Schedule

Parent/Teacher Conference events are stored as Veracross Group Events, which are uploaded by the school using the Veracross Importer. This upload should include all conferences available for scheduling and be formatted according to the Parent/Teacher Conference Template. Fields on the template are Teacher, Date, Start/End Time, Student and optionally the Location of the conference. More can be read about this process here.

Each Parent/Teacher Conference can be configured for a particular School Level. This allows each conference to be available for individual school levels for cases when teachers teach across multiple school levels.

3. Parent Portal Configuration

On the Portal Admin homepage, click on the ‘Parent Portal’ link in the Find Portals section. Click on the Configuration tab in the column on the left, and scan the parameters until ‘Parent Teacher Conferences’ is located. Ensure that the Value in this row says: true. If it does not, change it so it says true, then click Update.

4. Faculty Portal Notification Link

On the Portal Admin homepage, click on the ‘Faculty Portal’ link in the Find Portals section. Click on the Component Screens tab and then click on the ‘Edit…’ link next to the screen that the Notification Link should appear on. Decide upon the placement of the link and click the ‘+Add’ button in the Region where it should appear. Select ‘Notification Link’ and click Add Component. Click on the link when it appears in the display and configure the link’s appearance in the column that appears on the right side of the screen. The Hyperlink URL for this MUST read: {system:teacher_conference_schedule}. When complete, click the Publish Screen in the upper-left corner of the screen to push these changes to the Faculty Portal. Read more about configuring Portal Component Screens here.

5. Testing P/T Conference Functionality

Prior to launching Parent/Teacher Conferences for the whole school, many schools utilize a brief testing period in order to ensure the functionality is working as they intend. Testing parents are usually parents that have proven to be competent Veracross users as well as parents who are also faculty. This allows troubleshooting of initial issues on a much smaller and more manageable scale.

To begin testing, create a school-defined group as a test group and populate the group with those you wish to be test users. After this group is configured, navigate to the Portal Admin page and click into the Parent Portal in the ‘Find Portals’ section. Click on the Component Screens tab and then click on the ‘Edit…’ link next to the screen that the Notification Link should appear on. Decide upon the placement of the link and click the ‘+Add’ button in the Region where it should appear. Select ‘Notification Link’ and click Add Component. Click on the link when it appears in the display and configure the link’s appearance in the column that appears on the right side of the screen. The Hyperlink URL for this MUST read: {system:teacher_conferences}. In order for this to remain in testing and not open to the entire school, under Display Filtering, select ‘by Group’ and choose the test group from the drop-down menu. After this is completed, click the ‘Publish Screen’ button to push these changes to the Parent Portal.

Once this is configured, feel free to instruct the parents in the test group to begin attempting to use the Parent/Teacher Conferences functionality.

6. Parent Portal Notification Link

If a school has utilized the testing phase of this process, the only change that needs to be made here is to click into the Component Screen editing tool and change the Display Filtering from ‘by Group’ to ‘No Filter’, then publishing the changes.

If a school did not utilize the testing phase of this process, they need to create a Parent Portal notification link. On the Portal Admin homepage, click on the ‘Parent Portal’ link in the Find Portals section. Click on the Component Screens tab and then click on the ‘Edit…’ link next to the screen that the Notification Link should appear on. Decide upon the placement of the link and click the ‘+Add’ button in the Region where it should appear. Select ‘Notification Link’ and click Add Component. Click on the link when it appears in the display and configure the link’s appearance in the column that appears on the right side of the screen. The Hyperlink URL for this MUST read: {system:teacher_conferences}. When complete, click the Publish Screen in the upper-left corner of the screen to push these changes to the Parent Portal. Read more about configuring Portal Component Screens here.

At this point, Parent/Teacher Conferences are now live for the entire school and schools should notify parents of this fact through their preferred workflow.

Management

Parent Teacher Conference Reference Date System Parameter

The Parent Teacher Conference system parameter determines the start point of when parent teacher conference events begin. Any events with a date before the reference date are unaffected and any events after the reference date are modified as a part of the parent registration process in the portal. In short, set this parameter to the starting point for the current batch of parent teacher conference events.

Parent/Teacher Conferences Homepage

Those with the role of Staff_1, Staff_2 or any of the Division_Head roles are able to access the Parent/Teacher Conferences homepage. Here, School administrators can easily search across all conferences (scheduled and/or unscheduled) using a set of standard queries. Staff_1 users are only able to see parent/teacher conference events if the “Display on Staff/Faculty Calendar” option is checked. To edit these events, they will also need the Calendar_ADMIN supplemental security role. This homepage also features a link that allows users to create Parent/Teacher Conferences manually through Axiom.

+Schedule a Parent/Teacher Conference

On the Parent/Teacher Conferences homepage, clicking the ‘+ Schedule a Parent/Teacher Conference’ link allows the user to enter a conference directly from Axiom without logging into Portals. Clicking on this link displays a blank details screen that should be filled out with relevant information. The only required field to create a conference in this manner is the Date, however, to ensure that the conference schedules properly, the following rules must be followed:

  1. The teacher field must be in the Last Name, First Name format.
  2. Specify the proper Date, Start Time, and End Time.
  3. Specify the Student in the Last Name, Preferred Name format. If no preferred name exists, use the first name value. If that is a unique student name, the time-slot is for a teacher that the student is currently enrolled with and the class is active, the system will automatically create attendance records for the parents below. If these were not automatically created, manually add the Attendees below in the input grid.
  4. Fill the Notes field, for each attendance record, with the student’s information {First Last:ID}.

If the steps above were followed, the time-slot will be scheduled; it will no longer be a visible option for sign-up in Portals.

Parent Portal

When a parent logs into the Parent Portal and wants to schedule a Parent/Teacher Conference, they should click on the Notification Link that was created during setup. The resulting page will be dependent upon the setting of the “Parent Teacher Conference Status” system parameter. The status may be set according to the number below.

0: Disabled
1: Testing mode, the user must have “beta_tester” security role)
2: Enabled, updatable
3: Enabled, read-only

The following outline what users will see when in testing mode (with the appropriate security role) and when enabled.

Child List

If the parent has multiple children, they will first be directed to a student landing page where each child is listed with the number of teachers available for conferences are summarized for each child as well as the number of conferences scheduled for each. From here, parents can click “View Teachers” to signup for conferences for each child.

The number of teachers and number of scheduled conferences is for the entire household (both resident parents). If one parent logs in and signs up for conferences, the spouse can login to see and edit the selected conference times.

Teacher List

Once the “View Teachers” option is selected for a particular child, a list of available primary teachers are displayed that may be selected for the Parent/Teacher conference. Parents will only see faculty who are listed as a Primary Teacher on their list of available teachers to schedule conferences with.

When a conference time is chosen, the box will be highlighted in yellow until the “Reserve Times” button is selected. If two conference times are selected that are in conflict, the box will be highlighted in red. A user can book the conflicting slots across multiple teachers for one student if they want to overlap conference times. A user cannot book conflicting slots across multiple students.

Once a conference time is reserved, that time is saved and is no longer available for the teacher for other users to select in the “Available Times” drop-down. If two people are logged in at the same time and both select the same conference, the time slot will be awarded to the user who first clicked “Reserve Times” and the other will get an error message saying that time has already been taken.

Conference Schedule

Parents can view their scheduled P/T Conferences in the Parent Portal in two ways:

  • Conference Schedule Document: A document displaying each child and the conferences scheduled with teacher names listed. Access this by clicking on the ‘Download Schedules’ button in the P/T Conference Scheduler page.
  • Household Calendar: The reserved conference times can be seen on the Household calendar within the portal.

Parents are able to schedule multiple children to one timeslot in order to save time and talk about all their children at once.

Teacher Portal

Conference Schedule

Teachers can view their scheduled P/T Conferences in the Teacher Portals in two ways:

  1. Faculty Calendar: The scheduled conference times can be seen on the Faculty calendar within the portal.
  2. Scheduled Conferences Document: This document is available under “School Reports” and will display scheduled and unscheduled conferences with the parent and student names listed.

Manually Reserving Parent Teacher Conference Slots

Read more about manually entering Parent Teacher Conference Slots in Axiom.

Not Included

The following features are not included in the Parent/Teacher Conference functionality:

  1. Automated emails to parents and/or teachers when a conference has been scheduled.
  2. Multiple teachers displayed for one conference (only one teacher can be associated with a conference event).
  3. Scheduling of conferences by an entity other than Teacher via the student’s class(es). Scheduling per grade level, school level, are not options.
  4. Configuring/limiting conference events by Grade Level (currently limited by school level only).
  5. Publishing imported/current conferences to one school level, but not another.
  6. Scheduling one-per-class. If a student has the same teacher for multiple classes, this module allows for scheduling a conference once for that teacher, not once for each class. (This module is truly a “Parent-teacher conferences” system, allowing parents to schedule a conference with a teacher, not for a class).