Parent-Teacher Conferences: Time to Connect
Last Friday (October 26th) was the final day of the first quarter of the school year. Teachers, students, and parents alike have been shaking their heads at how quickly the first nine weeks of the school year passed! One of the traditional late-Fall mileposts is Parent-Teacher Conferences. While teachers have been meeting with parents for specific, targeted conversations about student learning and classroom progress since the first day of school, the first “official” Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held during the in-service on Friday, November 2nd, and again after school on Monday, November 5th.
Parents and guardians attending conferences should expect teachers to have plenty of information to share when they sit down together. In addition to sharing grades on the report card, teachers will share a variety of other bits and pieces to help parents see and understand the learning that occurred during Quarter One -- including student work samples, projects, self-assessments, standardized scores and results from assessments such as PEAKS, MAPs, and AIMSweb, and reports generated from daily classroom work with learning tools like i-Ready, IXL, and others. Just as each individual teacher has a unique personality, the various Parent-Teacher Conferences may have a slightly different “feel,” depending on the grade level, content area, and/or the existing relationship between the parent and teacher. What is most important is that the parent and teacher are sitting down together to discuss a student’s progress in school and overall well-being.
To ensure that you get the most out of your time during conferences, it is important that parents be prepared when they arrive at the school, as well! Please arrive on time, as conferences are scheduled throughout the entire window. Even if you would love to keep visiting about how fun the Halloween Carnival was or your favorite sports team’s chances at winning it big, remember that the parent who is next in line deserves time for a meaningful conference, as well! If you need more time, let the teacher know and schedule a follow-up conversation right away. Teachers want you to be involved in your child’s education! Even though the conversations are sometimes hard, our students benefit from having parents and teachers on the same page when it comes to academic progress and learning. In some cases, this requires more than a 20-minute conference.
Talk to your child prior to the conference and arrive with questions in hand. Better yet, bring your child along to conferences! Some teachers encourage student attendance, and student-led conferences have been not only popular but highly productive and rewarding in years past. Even if your child does not attend the conference itself, ask him beforehand how he thinks he is doing in school. What are his strengths? Growth areas? Where does he need more help? What would he like to learn more about?
Ask questions about curriculum and materials being used in the classroom. There has been a lot of conversation about screen time in school over the last several years. Ask your child’s teacher about the daily schedule and for specifics about the various learning tools and approaches being used (e.g., worksheets, teacher-created materials, digital devices, group projects, etc.). Request a demonstration of how the digital tools work and if you are able to access them at home.
Finally, ask about ways you can support learning outside of the school day. Helping with higher-level math problems may prove challenging, but encouraging your child to read each night is easy to do! For younger students especially, the best way to support learning and encourage excellence in school is simply by showing an interest, being supportive of your child’s teacher and school, asking questions about what your child is learning, encouraging homework completion, reading to (or with) your child (and/or talking about what they are reading), and emphasizing the importance of school as a stepping stone to “grown-up” dreams and goals.
If you are a parent or guardian of a CRSD student, I hope that Parent-Teacher Conferences are already on your calendar. Please make a point of attending and connecting with the school staff. A partnership with your child’s teacher(s) and school is critical to a student’s success. We truly are better together, and we look forward to welcoming you to Fall conferences in the coming days!