- FAQ
PTCFast.com Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Update for Users on New System Upgrades

  1. Fall 2017: Introducing Spanish Translation for Parents

Simple Step-by-Step Scenarios for Using the System

  1. Your software allows me to make a lot of choices. Can you give me simple step-by-step suggestions on how to use it?
  2. OK, suppose I am an individual teacher who wants to use this software to set up a single conference. Let's suppose I am not too worried about security issues--I just want to use the system quickly.
  3. I am an administrator in a school and I want to set up multiple conferences for different teachers in my school. What's the simplest way to do that?
  4. I teach in a middle school (or high school) each parent needs to sign up for several conferences--one for each teacher. What do you recommend?
  5. I am a very security-conscious administrator--I don't want to take any chance whatsoever of a parent signing up for a conference that they don't belong in--or a child signing up for an appointment as a prank. What do you recommend for me?
  6. We teach in teams and want to bring a group of parents into our conference at the same time. In our case, we have teams of three and want to have three parents every half hour. What do we do?
  7. Can we limit parents to signing up only specific conferences (e.g., only their homeroom teacher)?

Testing out the System

  1. I want to test out the system before using it--just to see if I like it. Is that OK, and if so, how do I do it?

Questions from Parents

  1. I registered my child's name, my name, and my email address but have not gotten the email from your system that allows me to select a time.
  2. I signed up for an appointment. The system told me the appointment was made, but I have not gotten a confirmation email.

Time Blocks Tips

  1. What is a Time Block?
  2. I need to insert breaks in my schedule (e.g., lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00).
  3. If I have created a block and change my mind, what do I do?
  4. How far in advance can I create time blocks?
  5. We teach in teams and want to bring a group of parents into our conference at the same time. In our case, we have teams of three and want to have three parents every half hour. What do we do?
  6. We bring in parents to see three different teachers. We want them to register for 30 minutes, and will rotate them through the three of us, and we want a new parent to show up every ten minutes.

Notice Settings / Notifying Parents

  1. What do you mean by "Notice Settings"?
  2. What sort of security does the Parent Code option provide?
  3. How should I decide which option to use?
  4. Suppose I choose Parent Code Option, start to enter some names, and then change my mind--I want to go with one of the simpler options. What do I do?
  5. I prefer not to print different letters for each class. Is there a way to just tell all the parents the same thing?

Emails

  1. What do I do if parents report not getting the emails they should be getting?
  2. What should I do if our administrators and teachers are having trouble receiving emails from the system?
  3. What are the questions on the Emails page for?
  4. What letters and emails are sent to parents?
  5. Why am I being asked to list student names?
  6. What should I do about parents who do not have internet access?
  7. Will parents get a reminder email before their appointment?

Reports and Deadlines

  1. What sort of reports am I going to receive?
  2. What settings do you recommend?
  3. How do I share access to conference information and appointment schedules with the teacher (or other colleague)?

Launch

  1. What do you mean by “launching” the conference?
  2. What if I change my mind about something after launching the conference?
  3. I have a bunch of conferences--do I have to launch them one at a time?
  4. I am concerned that our parents will access the system before we're ready for them to do so.
  5. If I have appointments in my conference but I decide I want to stop any additional parents from signing up, can I unlaunch?

Manage Conference

  1. What is the Manage Conference page for?
  2. What does "Create additional parent-teacher conference" mean?
  3. How do I set up more than one conference?

Using the Site Regularly

  1. When I want to get ready for next semester, how do I do that? Can I create new conferences from scratch and delete the old ones?
  2. I created dozens of conferences for my teachers last semester, and now I am ready to set up a new group of conferences. Do I have to re-enter all that information or update each of the old conferences individually?

General

  1. How do I change information I have already entered, such as the name of a conference, or the email or password or school name associated with my account?
  2. What do I do if parents report not getting the emails they should be getting?
  3. We have several staffers who need to access the account all at the same time. Is that possible?
  4. How do you handle support for schools?
  5. What is your Privacy Policy?
  6. Do you offer encryption?
  7. How do you handle support questions from parents?
  8. What should I do if our administrators and teachers are having trouble receiving emails from the system?
  9. How does the process work for parents who have more than one child to schedule (siblings) in different classrooms? Do they have to register twice, or is there a way that they can schedule all of their children without re-registering?

School Web Page Option

  1. What is meant by a "School Web Page"?
  2. What advantages would this School Web Page offer me?
  3. Are there any disadvantages associated with this choice?
  4. Is there anything special I need to do if I choose to have this web page created?
  5. If I do not choose this option, what will be different with regard to procedures and security?
  6. Can I use html formatting commands to improve the appearance of my School Web Page?

"Team" Conferences, or when you want more than one appt per time slot

  1. We teach in teams and want to bring a group of parents into our conference at the same time. In our case, we have teams of three and want to have three parents every half hour. What do we do?
  2. We bring in parents to see three different teachers. We want them to register for 30 minutes, and will rotate them through the three of us, and we want a new parent to show up every ten minutes.

Double Time Slots

  1. How do I accommodate parents who need a double time slot?

Spanish Translation for Parents

  1. How do I enable Spanish translation for the webpages that parents see?
  2. What happens when I check Spanish Translation Option?
  3. What about used-created text, like location of my conference, or my message on the School Web Page?
  4. How many fields need a translation?
  5. Do I have to provide Spanish translations for all seven fields?
  6. I do not have a translator on my staff. How do I get a Spanish translation for my custom text?
  7. If a parent clicks by accident on the flag icon to request Spanish text, can they change their mind?
  8. What about languages other than Spanish?

Billing and Payment

  1. Why are you not free anymore?
  2. When can we actually make payments for 2018 conferences?
  3. When do semesters begin and end?
  4. We only have one conference per year (in the fall). Do we have to pay for both semesters every year to have continuous access to our data and our accounts?
  5. We have three conferences per year, do we have to pay for three sets of conferences annually?
  6. We have 34 teachers who all set up their own conferences. We like doing it that way. Can we keep doing that? Do we have to pay $4 for each of them, generating dozens of transactions and costing $128?
  7. I normally re-use my conferences from semester to semester, updating the timeblocks with the new dates and times. How does that work together with payment?
  8. I want to mail you a check. What address should I use?

Update for Users on New System Upgrades

Fall 2017: Introducing Spanish Translation for Parents
New Upgrade to PTCFast for Fall 2017 Conferences (released July 20, 2017).

Greetings from PTCFast.com. We hope everyone is having a good summer.

PTCFast.com is happy to announce an important upgrade that will be of special interest for many users in the United States: Spanish translation for parents. As with most of our upgrades, this is a direct response to dozens of requests we have received from users.

To enable Spanish translation for parents, go to the bottom of the Manage Conference page and check the box next to "Turn on Spanish translation option for parent communication".

When you pick this option, pages used by parents will display a US and Spanish flag in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. When a parent clicks on the Spanish flag, the system will switch over to displaying screens in Spanish (in this session and in any subsequent sessions and emails). Parents can switch back to English (and vice versa) at any time.

To insure fully translated emails and displays, you will need to provide a Spanish version of the language you have customized for your conference, such as location, special greeting, and so forth.

All the customized-text fields that require translation are marked with a little note below the text box that reads: "Translation text: English##Spanish" (you only see this little note if you have selected Spanish Translation checkbox.)

For example, one such field is Location on the Emails page. If your English text were to say "Room 232 in the main building", you could instead insert "Room 232 in the main building##Habitacion 232 en el edificio principal". Parents who self-select Spanish would then see "Habitacion 232 en el edificio principal", while everyone else would see "Room 232 in the main building".

There are only seven fields that allow you to add a translation: four on Emails, (Location, What to tell users without internet, Final sentence, and Who letters are from), one on Reports/Deadlines (What to tell parents if all appointments are taken), and two on Manage Conference (Special Requests note, and Intro to the School Web Page note (if chosen.))

Note: you are not required to provide a Spanish translation of all seven of these elements. If you only provide English in some of them, that English text will be displayed to everyone, which might be perfectly adequate for your purposes. Also, note that if you uncheck the Spanish Translation Option, then any text you have entered (separated out by ##s) will still be there in the text box but will not be displayed to parents, so you would not have to go and edit it out.

We are looking forward to user comments on this new feature.

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Simple Step-by-Step Scenarios for Using the System

Your software allows me to make a lot of choices. Can you give me simple step-by-step suggestions on how to use it?
Sure! The best plan depends on your needs, but in the FAQ items in this section, we offer some suggested step by step plans for different types of users.
OK, suppose I am an individual teacher who wants to use this software to set up a single conference. Let's suppose I am not too worried about security issues--I just want to use the system quickly.
No problem. This will take you about 3 minutes. Sign up as a new user and provide the name of your school and the conference name (which can just be, e.g., "Jane Marshall's Conference".) When you are taken to Time Blocks, make the selections to create as many time blocks as you need. Then hit "Done with times". Next you will be taken to Notice Settings, where you should pick "Class Code Option". Review the choices offered to you in Emails, and fill in a few bits of requested information. Then in Reports/Deadlines, leave all the boxes checked, and submit the page. Next, you will then be taken to Launch, where you should launch your conference. Now click to View/Print the letters that you will distribute to the parents. Copy the text of the letter, print it out, and distribute it to your parents (e.g., via backpack mail). That's it! You will receive emails showing you the schedule as it develops, and you can also log into the site anytime if you want to manually set up any appointments.
I am an administrator in a school and I want to set up multiple conferences for different teachers in my school. What's the simplest way to do that?
It's best to create one account and choose School Web Page option for parent communications (on Notice Settings page). Just put all your conferences on the same account (you can always create new ones from Manage page). Just follow these four steps:

1. Create your first conference and set up the schedule for this conference--and also make your other choices (Notice Settings, Emails, Reports/Deadlines)

2. You can Launch that first conference at this point, if you want--but it may be more efficient to wait and launch all your conferences at once (from Manage Conferences page).

3. To create your second conference, go to Manage Conferences page and select "Create additional parent-teacher conference". This takes you to a page that asks you some questions. Click on "Use the following conference as a template: ", select the first conference you are using as template, then click on "Enter my choices and create Time Blocks." Do the same for each additional conference.

4. Repeat step 3 as many times as needed. Then Launch all the conferences at the same time (from the Manage page.)

All that's left is to notify your parents. Simply provide your parents with the URL (link) for the school webpage (e.g., by posting it on your school's own website, and/or by sending the URL to your parents via backpack mail.)
I teach in a middle school (or high school) each parent needs to sign up for several conferences--one for each teacher. What do you recommend?
Create one account for the school, then a separate conference in the account for each class. After you create the first conference, it's fast and easy to copy its settings as you create the rest. On the Manage page, check the School Web Page option. Create a link to this page on your school's Home Page, and parents can click on it to register appointments for all the classes they need to.
I am a very security-conscious administrator--I don't want to take any chance whatsoever of a parent signing up for a conference that they don't belong in--or a child signing up for an appointment as a prank. What do you recommend for me?
Set up each of your conferences using the "Parent Code Option". This requires you to enter a list of the students (see Emails section of FAQ above). After you launch a given conference, print/view parent letters, and you will be given a separate letter to send to each parent, giving them a unique sign-up code for the appropriate conference. (Note that if you select Parent Code Option, you cannot use the School Web Page option--see section of FAQ items below on School Web Page option to learn more.)
We teach in teams and want to bring a group of parents into our conference at the same time. In our case, we have teams of three and want to have three parents every half hour. What do we do?
You can do this easily. Set up your first timeblock (in this example, half hour appointments). Then click "Add another Timeblock" and choose the same times. The software warns you that the timeblocks overlap. That's OK: you can tell it to not remind you again. Then do the same to create the third timeblock. You're done - now up to 3 parents can register for each half hour slot. For more options see FAQ on Team Teaching.
Can we limit parents to signing up only specific conferences (e.g., only their homeroom teacher)?
Yes. To control which conferences parents sign up for, your best bet is: pick the Class Code Option on Notifications page. In this case, when you select a conference on Manage and click on the parent letters there, you can see a letter telling parents how to sign up for that particular conference.

These initial parent letters are usually printed and handed out via backpack mail or at open houses. You can use the letters as is, or copy and paste them into your own letters. You can still have parents sign up for multiple conferences - e.g., if you want a parent to sign up for Mrs Jones and Mr Hernandez, they would get a different class code for each. These parent letters are usually printed and handed out via backpack mail or at open houses. You can use the letters as is, or copy and paste them into your own letters.

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Testing out the System

I want to test out the system before using it--just to see if I like it. Is that OK, and if so, how do I do it?
We understand that having your conferences run smoothly is very important to your school--so it's fine to test out PTCFast before adopting it!

From the Home Page you will see a links for Free Demo/Free Semester. Click that link.

Our Free Demo option is specifically designed to let you test out the system setting up simulated appointments etc.

The only constraint on this account is that you cannot create appointments for more than 5 parents.

When you decide to use the system for real conferences, you just go to Manage Conference and convert from Free Demo to an account (probably with Free Trial Semester).

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Questions from Parents

I registered my child's name, my name, and my email address but have not gotten the email from your system that allows me to select a time.
   Normally you should receive this email quickly, but email systems are complex and sometimes there are delays. If you have not received this follow-up email within about an hour, we suggest you check your spam filter to see if it has put the email in a folder (typically called JUNK or SPAM).

   If not, make sure you are checking the correct email account (some people have more than one email address). Assuming you are using the correct email address, you can try registering again. Alternatively, or if that doesn't work, you can simply call the school and ask them to make the appointment for you, which they can easily do online themselves.
I signed up for an appointment. The system told me the appointment was made, but I have not gotten a confirmation email.
   Normally you should receive this email quickly, but email systems are complex and sometimes there are delays. If you have not received this confirmation email within about an hour, we suggest you check your spam filter to see if it has put the email in a folder (typically called JUNK or SPAM).

   If not, make sure you are checking the correct email account (some people have more than one email address). If you are still having a problem, we suggest you contact the school to confirm that the appointment was made.

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Time Blocks Tips

What is a Time Block?
   This refers to a sequence of appointments on a given day that run continuously between a start time (that you specify) and a finish time (that you also specify).
I need to insert breaks in my schedule (e.g., lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00).
   There are two ways to do this:

 You can create appointments with a student name of "break" or "lunch". In this example, if time slots are 20 minutes, you would create a student appt named "lunch" at 12:00, 12:20, and 12:40. Parents will not see the word "break" or "lunch", they will just see that the time is taken.

A more elegant approach: create two separate time blocks, one in the morning until noon, the other starting at 1:00. This method is particularly recommended if you are an administrator creating conference schedules for many teachers. When you create the additional conferences for each of the other teachers, you can use this one as a template and all the time blocks with the built in breaks (the lunch breaks in this example) will also be copied.
If I have created a block and change my mind, what do I do?
   Click on Delete Block, which you will see above each time block.
How far in advance can I create time blocks?
   You can create them as far ahead as you want.
We teach in teams and want to bring a group of parents into our conference at the same time. In our case, we have teams of three and want to have three parents every half hour. What do we do?
   You can do this easily. Set up your first timeblock (in this example, half hour appointments). Then click "Add another Timeblock" and choose the same times. The software warns you that the timeblocks overlap, you can tell it to not remind you again. Then do the same to create the third timeblock. You're done - now up to 3 parents can register for each half hour slot.
We bring in parents to see three different teachers. We want them to register for 30 minutes, and will rotate them through the three of us, and we want a new parent to show up every ten minutes.
   No problem. Set up your first timeblock (in this example, half hour appointments). Then click "Add another Timeblock" and choose times offset by ten minutes. The software warns you that the timeblocks overlap, you can tell it to not remind you again. Then do the same to create the third timeblock.

   For example, if your appointments started at 3:00, then you would set up the first one for 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, etc. The second would be 3:10, 3:40, 4:10, etc, and the third would be 3:30, 3:50, 4:20, etc. When you're done you will have a new 30 minute appointment opening up every 10 minutes.

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Notice Settings / Notifying Parents

What do you mean by "Notice Settings"?
This refers to your choice for how to communicate with parents. You have three choices:

Option 1. The easiest and most common is to have PTCFast set up a "School Web Page." We create the page and provide you with the link, from which parents pick their teachers. All parents use the same link, which makes it simple. Many schools put the link on their homepage and simply direct parents there. Parents just need to know which classes to sign up for.

Option 2. Each class/teacher gets a "Class Code", which is provided to the parents in that class. They go to link we provide and enter that code, which tells the system what teacher/class they are registering for. In this case, each class gets a different letter, which is typically sent to parents via backpack mail or distributed at open houses. It’s more work for the school, parents can only register for classes for which they receive a letter.

Option 3.The "Parent Code" option, in which each parent is pre-assigned his/her own code. This requires you to enter a list of student names for each class, and we assign a unique code for each. We provide a unique letter for each parent with their code, which you deliver to them (typically via backpack or open house). About 1% of our schools use this more secure option.
What sort of security does the Parent Code option provide?
If you select Parent Code Option, each parent gets a different code, and the code can only be used to make one appointment, for the parents of that student. For example, using this option, a student "prankster" could not intercept a letter to his parents and make multiple appointments. As far as we know, this has not actually been a problem, hence this option is seldom used.
How should I decide which option to use?
Assuming your parents will know which conferences to select, then School Web Page is definitely the simplest choice. If they would not know, then go with Class Code. But if you are worried about prank signups, then the Parent Code Option may be your preferred choice.
Suppose I choose Parent Code Option, start to enter some names, and then change my mind--I want to go with one of the simpler options. What do I do?
This is no problem--just choose a different parent communications option. You don't have to delete the names you entered.
I prefer not to print different letters for each class. Is there a way to just tell all the parents the same thing?
Sure! If you select the School Web Page, you can pick the School Web Page option for parent communications. Then you direct all the parents to a link to a single signup page for your school. Most schools put a link to their PTCFast School Web Page on their own Home Page, telling parents to go there to sign up for their appointments.

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Emails

What do I do if parents report not getting the emails they should be getting?
This often happens when the message has been erroneously flagged as spam. Ask the parent to check any mailboxes with names like "Spam" or "Junk". It may also help for the parent to "whitelist" us in their email program settings. They can whitelist "www.PTFast.com" and also possibly the IP address our emails come from: 206.214.220.22. This will insure that the email does not get blocked by the parent's own email software. If a parent is using a work account to access PTCFast.com they may need to contact their IT staff to get the whitelisting accomplished. For more information on whitelisting see: http://www.aweber.com/blog/how-to-whitelist-us
What should I do if our administrators and teachers are having trouble receiving emails from the system?
This usually results from changes in the school's email system SPAM settings. You should contact the IT staff and ask them to whitelist our domain "www.PTCFast.com" and our server's primary IP address, 206.214.220.22 This will often fix the problem.
What are the questions on the Emails page for?
After you launch your conference, parents can sign up for appointments either by going to the School Web Page (if you check that option on the Manage page) or by following the instructions in a letter you send them. This letter can be accessed and printed from the Manage page as well. This page lets you customize the information sent to and displayed for parents, things like the teacher's name, conference location, etc.
What letters and emails are sent to parents?
The first letter is something that you print and send to the parents. When a parent uses that to sign up, they provide an email address. We send them a confirmation of their signup. If they register but do not select an appointment time, we send them reminders to sign up (24 and 72 hours after sign-up). We also send an appointment reminder to everyone who makes an appointment; this letter is sent out two days before the appointment.
Why am I being asked to list student names?
This happens only if you select Parent Code Option in Notice Settings tab. On this option, a separate letter is created for you to send to each of the parents--giving them an individualized login link. 14 days after the conference is over, the list of students is purged from the system. If you do not wish to input student names, simply select the School Web page or Class Code options.
What should I do about parents who do not have internet access?
On the Emails page, you can provide any instruction you want to give parents, and this will be included in the letter that you send to them. We suggest asking the parents to call you on the phone. Then you can help the parent select an appointment time and enter it (on Manage Conference tab, you will find a link labeled "Click here to manually sign up parents and/or modify time blocks").
Will parents get a reminder email before their appointment?
Yes, they will receive an email reminder about two days before the conference begins.

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Reports and Deadlines

What sort of reports am I going to receive?
Each report is an email (with the subject header "PTCFast.com Signup Report...", containing a list of all the appointments that have been made so far. These reports will be sent to you as often as you specify on the Reports/Deadlines page. Note that an administrator organizing multiple conferences can also request that a copy of these reports be sent to the teacher or other alternate email (you elect this choice on Notice Settings page). You can even specify whether the teacher or other alternate email recipient should get a link that provides him or her with the ability to modify certain settings for the conference.
What settings do you recommend?
We recommend that you choose to receive fairly frequent updates, and that is why we have pre-checked several notifications.
How do I share access to conference information and appointment schedules with the teacher (or other colleague)?
On the Reports and Deadlines page, there is a section labeled "Designate colleagues to view or modify this conference". You can enter the teacher's email (or emails) here. They will then receive copies of the schedule for their conference at that address.

On this section of the Reports & Deadlines page, you will also have two options to grant teachers partial access to the conference scheduler. If you select either option, they will receive a Teacher Access Link along with the appointment schedule. When the teacher clicks on this link he or she will only have access to this particular conference, not any other conferences in your account. (Note that teachers do not log in to the system directly as you do, and they do not get a login and password. They simply receive a Teacher Access Link which they can click on to gain partial access.)

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Launch

What do you mean by “launching” the conference?
When you have made all your selections and launched the conference, the software provides you with a letter that you provide to each of the parents, telling them how to sign up for an appointment. It also activates the link that allows the parents to sign up. When a conference is launched, you receive regular updates on how the sign-up process is going (as you specified on Reports/Deadlines).
What if I change my mind about something after launching the conference?
After launch, you can still change most of the information. For example, you can still change the conference schedule (but the system prevents you from overwriting appointments), change the directions to or location of the meeting, change notice and reporting settings, even change parent deadlines for registering. Of course, after you distribute the initial letters to parents and they start signing up, you should be careful about changing information that would affect them.
I have a bunch of conferences--do I have to launch them one at a time?
No, if you go to Manage you will see a link near the top labeled "Launch all Conferences". Click that and you can launch the whole set of launchable conferences at once.
I am concerned that our parents will access the system before we're ready for them to do so.
The Launch (and Unlaunch) functions control whether the system can be accessed by parents. When you finish setting up your first conference, you will be given the opportunity to launch it. You can also launch all your conferences at the same time from the Manage Conference page. If you want to Unlaunch a conference, click on the Launch page and you will see that option.
If I have appointments in my conference but I decide I want to stop any additional parents from signing up, can I unlaunch?
No, because if you have appointments, the system will not let you unlaunch. To stop further signups, you can move the deadline earlier in time, even after the conference has been launched.

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Manage Conference

What is the Manage Conference page for?
Once you have launched a conference, the Manage Conference page offers you actions you might want to take to oversee the process. For example, there is a link to go and manually sign up a parent who might not have an email access. You can also print a schedule for your appointments, or change your login information. Finally, starting Sept 2010, you can also request a link for a School Webpage, which allows parents to choose which of the conferences organized on a given account they would like to make an appointment for. [“How?” link after “establish more than one conference” on manage page:]
What does "Create additional parent-teacher conference" mean?
In your account, you can create and manage as many conferences as you would like. This link is often used by school administrators who want to manage conferences for all of their teachers. See next question for details--and also see "School Webpage Option" section of FAQ below.
How do I set up more than one conference?
If you are an administrative assistant charged with setting up multiple conferences for parents, this software should work well for you. Just create a single account of your own and use this for all the conferences. Every time you want to set up a new conference, go to the Manage Conference page and click "Create Additional Parent-Teacher Conference" (to save time, when you do this you can select option to Use Existing Conference as a Template-and "clone" as many conferences with the same schedule as you would like). Once you have set up multiple conferences, you can always log in, go to the Manage page, and select which conference you want to work on. You can also print a list of the conferences you are managing, and delete a conference. Give all the conferences different names (we suggest using the name of the teacher). When you get emails about the status of a conference, these emails will always mention the name of the conference. Finally, you can also choose the School Webpage Option (see special section of the FAQ below for more details). To do this, you go to the Manage page and click to have a School Webpage be created for your school. This will provide a common page that parents visit in order to sign up for any of the conferences that you have organized on your account. For more details on usage and advantages/disadvantages of this option, see School Webpage Option section of FAQ below.

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Using the Site Regularly

When I want to get ready for next semester, how do I do that? Can I create new conferences from scratch and delete the old ones?
Yes, you can delete the old ones and create new ones if you want. That works perfectly well. However, that is not the only option, and often it is not the fastest way to do things. Please read the next question below to see why.
I created dozens of conferences for my teachers last semester, and now I am ready to set up a new group of conferences. Do I have to re-enter all that information or update each of the old conferences individually?
No. If your teachers have mostly stayed the same, you can directly update a whole batch of old conferences at a time--potentially saving a great deal of time!

Suppose you organized 20 conferences last semester and now wish to run conferences for 18 of the same teachers this semester (and two new ones). On Manage Conference there is a link to “Create new semester conferences” which takes you to a page which includes a tool called "Copy Schedule from One Conference to Others". This will copy a Time Block Schedule from one conference to multiple other conferences.

Here's how you use it: First, select one of your old conferences to serve as a schedule template. Go to the Time Blocks page for this conference. If there are old appointments, you’ll need to use “Delete All Appointments” to wipe them out. Then create the schedule you want for the new semester. Now you're ready to go to the Manage Conferences page and click on the "Copy data to create next semester conferences" link.

You will be asked which conference you want to copy the schedule from: choose the template conference you edited. Next, you will be asked which conferences you want to copy the template schedule to: click on all 20 of your old conferences. Presto! Your conferences now have the new schedules--but all the old option selections (teacher emails, notification settings, etc.) you had opted for last semester.

You can now edit and change the information on just the two conferences with new teachers.

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General

How do I change information I have already entered, such as the name of a conference, or the email or password or school name associated with my account?
To change information on a specific conference, go to Manage Conference page and look for a link called "Edit Conference name, grade level, teacher login". Click on that link. To change details on your overall account, go to Manage Conference, scroll to the bottom of screen, and find a link labeled "Edit account info including login, school name, location, etc.".  Click on that link.
What do I do if parents report not getting the emails they should be getting?
This often happens when the message has been erroneously flagged as spam. Ask the parent to check any mailboxes with names like "Spam" or "Junk". It may also help for the parent to "whitelist" us in their email program settings. They can whitelist "www.PTFast.com" and also possibly the IP address our emails come from: 206.214.220.22. This will insure that the email does not get blocked by the parent's own email client. If a parent is using a work account to access PTCFast.com they may need to contact their IT staff to get the whitelisting accomplished. For more information on whitelisting see: http://www.aweber.com/blog/how-to-whitelist-us
We have several staffers who need to access the account all at the same time. Is that possible?
Yes. For example, if different staffers all use the main account login/password, that is okay so long as they don't try to work on the same conference at the same time. It is also possible for various Designated Colleagues (whom you have specified on the Reports and Deadlines page) to simultaneously work on different conferences at the same time (see FAQ items on Reports and Deadlines Page for more details on designating colleagues, e.g., teachers, to access your conferences.) The only thing the system prevents is different people editing the very same conference at the same time, since that could cause errors to occur.
How do you handle support for schools?
   If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us at support@ptcfast.com. We will respond within 24 hours (typically less than four hours).
What is your Privacy Policy?
It is simple and very strong: We will not use the parent emails or student lists for any purpose other than communicating with the parents about their specific parent-teacher conference. Additionally, we will not sell or circulate parent emails or student lists.

We will not sell or give the emails provided by teachers and/or school administrators to anyone else, nor will we use them for any purpose other than (a) communicating with users about their conferences or (b) providing occasional updates on changes that might take place in PTCFast, or perhaps, and only very rarely, letting users know if we release specific additional software tools likely to be of direct interest to users of PTCFast.
Do you offer encryption?
Yes we offer secure, 256-bit encryption.
How do you handle support questions from parents?
   To date, more than 100,000 parents have made appointments with the system and fewer than two dozen have contacted us with problems.

   The most common problems involve emails delayed or rejected by spam filters, or simple questions about how to use the system. We refer these inquiries back to the school, because often the simplest and easiest thing to do is for the school to go online and schedule the appointment while the parent is on the phone.

   However, if you run into situations that you think are more complex or which you think we need to be alerted to, please email us with details at support@ptcfast.com.
What should I do if our administrators and teachers are having trouble receiving emails from the system?
This usually happens when a school's IT staff are using software that indiscriminately blocks large lists of senders, including our servers. If you have this problem, please ask your IT staff to whitelist our server's primary IP address, 206.214.220.22 This will often fix the problem.
How does the process work for parents who have more than one child to schedule (siblings) in different classrooms? Do they have to register twice, or is there a way that they can schedule all of their children without re-registering?
If you set up your account in the most common way, with all teachers/conferences in one account, with all conferences set up on the Notifications page with Class Code option, and picking the School Web Page option (see Manage page), then what happens is this: The parent picks their one conference, registers and gets an email link to pick an appointment for the conference they clicked on. After they pick their first appointment time, they are asked if they have a) another child to sign up for that conference, or b) another conference to sign up for the same child, and they can make those appointments without re-registering. Alternatively, you can go with Class Code instead of School Web Page option and provide parents with letters. In this case the parent, while only needing to register once, would be asked for a class code for subsequent appointments after the first one.

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School Web Page Option

What is meant by a "School Web Page"?
If you click on the checkbox (on Manage page) to request that a school web page be created, then PTCFast.com will display a link for you (you will find the link on the Manage page right below the checkbox). A parent clicking on this link will come to a web page that has your school name on top and lists the names of all the conferences you have set up on this account. When the user clicks on one or more of these conference names, he or she will be given the opportunity to register their name and email address. The system will then send them a link to make their appointments.
What advantages would this School Web Page offer me?
You can put a link to this page up on your school website. That way, any parent can go direct to the signup process without waiting to receive a letter from you. Of course, you can also send parents a letter containing the link to this school web page. If you choose to use the system this way, you do not have to obtain and distribute conference-specific codes to the parents. You just have the one link (obtained on Manage page) for the entire school, and you provide that one link to parents through your school website, school newsletter, and/or through letters sent to parents.
Are there any disadvantages associated with this choice?
The people you give the link to will have the opportunity to sign up for any of your conferences. Thus, it is conceivable that someone might sign up for the "wrong" conference, perhaps by mistake or even as a prank. Note, however, that before signing up for a conference a parent has to provide a working email address, which they must confirm before they are allowed to schedule an appointment. Thus far we have not heard of any prank problems arising with our system, but we feel that users should be aware of potential risks, however remote.
Is there anything special I need to do if I choose to have this web page created?
You should make sure that the conference names contain enough information that parents will be able to tell which one is right for them, e.g., you might say "Conference with Mr. Jim McDermott" rather than "Conference with JM".
If I do not choose this option, what will be different with regard to procedures and security?
If you do not choose this option, you will be sending each of your parents a letter which is specific for their conference (this is the letter than you can print out as soon as you launch the conference—or with a launched conference, by visiting Manage at any time).
Can I use html formatting commands to improve the appearance of my School Web Page?
Yes, this feature was added in Fall 2014. The html commands for italics, bolding, breaks and paragraphs are now supported. If you are not familiar with these, it is recommended that you start by finding an introductory tutorial on basic html formatting (many exist online).

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"Team" Conferences, or when you want more than one appt per time slot

We teach in teams and want to bring a group of parents into our conference at the same time. In our case, we have teams of three and want to have three parents every half hour. What do we do?
You can do this easily. Set up your first timeblock (in this example, half hour appointments). Then click "Add another Timeblock" and choose the same times. The software warns you that the timeblocks overlap, you can tell it to not remind you again. Then do the same to create the third timeblock. You're done - now up to 3 parents can register for each half hour slot.
We bring in parents to see three different teachers. We want them to register for 30 minutes, and will rotate them through the three of us, and we want a new parent to show up every ten minutes.
No problem. Set up your first timeblock (in this example, half hour appointments). Then click "Add another Timeblock" and choose times offset by ten minutes. The software warns you that the timeblocks overlap, you can tell it to not remind you again. Then do the same to create the third timeblock. If your appointments started at 3:00, then you would set up the first one for 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, etc. The second would be 3:10, 3:40, 4:10, etc, and the third would be 3:20, 3:50, 4:20, etc. When you're done you will have a new 30 minute appointment opening up every 10 minutes.

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Double Time Slots

How do I accommodate parents who need a double time slot?
As a rule, schools do not want parents to be able to decide on their own how many times to select – a decision to allocate more time is normally a mutual decision. When it does happen, there are two ways to accommodate this in PTCFast:

1) A parent is given the option after choosing a time to register a second student immediately after the first (the parent is presented with two choices, the other being to register the same student for another class – be sure they do not pick this one). When they can select this option they will be asked for the name, and they can enter something like Dan2, and can pick a second time.

2) A parent desiring a double slot can also be directed to call the teacher (which is often necessary anyway), who can bring up the conference on his/her computer and make the double appointment manually.

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Spanish Translation for Parents

How do I enable Spanish translation for the webpages that parents see?
Check the box labeled "Turn on Spanish translation option for parent communication" located near the bottom of the Manage Conference page.
What happens when I check Spanish Translation Option?
Parents will now see an English and a Spanish flag icon on their screens. When they click on the Spanish flag, the text will switch to Spanish translation (and vice versa), and subsequent emails will be in Spanish.
What about used-created text, like location of my conference, or my message on the School Web Page?
You provide your own Spanish translation in the same text box where you entered the English by inserting, right after the English text, two pound signs (##) followed by the Spanish text. E.g., if you have location (on the Emails pages) as "Room 232 in the main building" you could make it "Room 232 in the main building##Habitacion 232 en el edificio principal". Parents picking Spanish would see "Habitacion 232 en el edificio principal" and other parents would see "Room 232 in the main building".
How many fields need a translation?
You only need to deal with seven fields: four on Emails (these are: Location, What to tell users without internet, Final sentence, and Who letters are from), one on Reports/Deadlines (What to tell parents if all appointments are taken), and two on Manage Conference (Special Requests note, and Intro to the School Web Page note (if chosen.))
Do I have to provide Spanish translations for all seven fields?
No. If you don't, it will just display the English text to all parents (which in some cases might be adequate).
I do not have a translator on my staff. How do I get a Spanish translation for my custom text?
If you do not have a Spanish translator, you could use any translate website such as Google Translate.
If a parent clicks by accident on the flag icon to request Spanish text, can they change their mind?
Yes, they can reset their language setting at any time.
What about languages other than Spanish?
We may add additional languages in the future.

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Billing and Payment

Why are you not free anymore?
We kept the service free as long as we could--seven years! But the site has gotten huge--well over a million parent teacher conferences per year --and our expenses have grown. We remain committed to an ad-free and highly affordable conference scheduling service with frequent user-based improvements, while maintaining a simple, strict privacy policy. Also note that all our prior users are being automatically signed up for a Free Trial Semester even though they are not trying out the system for the first time. Implementing the user's fee will also allow us to provide a stream of new improvements over the next year or two, many inspired by requests and suggestions from users.
When can we actually make payments for 2018 conferences?
PTCFast.com is now accepting payments by credit card for Spring, 2018 and subsequent semesters. Go to Manage / Billing. The site will also provide invoices and W-9 forms for those who need them. Payment by check will be accepted but it must be payment in advance (we do not have resources to bill schools after they use the service.)
When do semesters begin and end?
Spring semester runs from Jan 1 to June 30 and Fall semester runs from July 1 to Dec 31.
We only have one conference per year (in the fall). Do we have to pay for both semesters every year to have continuous access to our data and our accounts?
No, if you just have conferences in the fall, you only have to pay for one semester. You'll be able to access your accounts and your data year-round.
We have three conferences per year, do we have to pay for three sets of conferences annually?
Great question! Two semesters per year covers the entire year. One is January-June, the other is July-December, so once you get those you can have as many conferences as often as you want, starting and ending any time you want.
We have 34 teachers who all set up their own conferences. We like doing it that way. Can we keep doing that? Do we have to pay $4 for each of them, generating dozens of transactions and costing $128?
You will be able to pay $70 in a single transaction and keep doing what you have been doing. You will get a batch ticket, usable for all the teachers in your school for a given semester (but not shareable with anyone outside your school). This will allow your teachers to set up and run their own conferences exactly as you have been doing in the past.
I normally re-use my conferences from semester to semester, updating the timeblocks with the new dates and times. How does that work together with payment?
You can pay $50 for a semester (current or future) anytime you want. If you pay for a future semester, that allows you to update any of your current conference timeblocks to include dates that lie within that semester. And/or you can create new conferences with time blocks within that semester.

If you are buying tickets now for a future semester, you need to have particular conferences in the account right now which you are paying for and you can pay for that anytime.

For example, if you have conferences from the Fall, you can pay $4 each to have them available for use in the spring. Once you pay for spring, you can update the timeblocks to include spring dates, anytime you want.

I want to mail you a check. What address should I use?
If you send a check, please provide name and city of school, which semester(s) you want to pay for, and the email address for your account. Send checks to PTCFast,com, 325 West Washington St., Suite 2243, San Diego, CA 92103.

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