This is one of those tips that I'm not sure is really a new tip to anyone. It's so simple, yet I never thought of it before (in 24 years!) So, although probably every other teacher in the world would think this is common sense, I'll post it for those of you like me, who somehow missed this.
This year is my first year to have basically a one to one chrome book situation in my Language Arts classroom. I've started using google classroom to assign daily journal entries, which has been pretty great. During the week of conferences, I had student begin a google doc for their journal. The prompt was: Describe how you are feeling about Lang. Arts. What is your grade? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Do you feel the work is too hard? Too easy? What are your goals to improve in this class?
The next day, students opened the same document and added a paragraph. Instead of focusing on academics, this prompt focused on behavior. Describe your behavior in class. Do you hand in assignments on time? Do you have trouble paying attention? Do you prefer to work in a group or alone? Do you participate and volunteer in class? Have you had any trouble with bullying this year?
During conferences, I pulled up each student's document and shared it with parents. This gave me a great set of talking points that covered both academics and behavior. In some cases I explained to parents that I disagreed with the student's assessment of his/her behavior, but for the most part, students were harder on themselves than I would have been.
As I said, I don't know why I hadn't thought of doing this before. I'll attribute it to the fact that this is the first year for having chrome books and the ease of google classroom to access the students' documents. It was really nice that it wasn't me spilling all the bad news, it was the student themselves reporting the information.
It worked really well for me and I will definitely do this again.