Now that my kids are in high school and middle school, the Parent/Teacher conferences are much different than in elementary school when we met with one teacher for about fifteen or twenty minutes. That time period felt short, especially when the conferences were running late. The elementary school conferences focused on assessments the teacher gave as opposed to standardized testing, and how my child was doing. Next steps included ideas for books to read or additional ways to practice writing or math facts.
Some of my son’s amazing teachers in elementary school on the last day of school!
Middle School Parent/Teacher conferences at my school are even shorter and we choose a combination of just two teachers: Math/History OR English/Science. The information was usually around completion of work, attitude in school, and quiz grades. Sometimes these conferences feel like confirming that the teachers know exactly who your child is.
Our High School Parent/Teacher conferences are like a kind of sprint: 6 minutes per teacher and I think we can only meet with two. If the rooms are far apart — our high school has four floors — it is literally a sprint. This brief time period seems to focus on how my child is doing in that class from grades to attitude. It’s amazing but I found in high school that these teachers really have a good grasp of who my child is from early on.
Given that there’s limited access to teachers (assuming that you don’t request or require more), my strategy is to:
- Meet with teachers my child seems to complain about the most.
- Meet with teachers that my child seems to have the hardest time academically.
- Ask the teacher if they need things donated to their classroom. You’d be amazed how many teachers need basic items like hand sanitizer, and paper towels.
- Convey positive feedback from my child about that teacher.
- Thank them for their time. Parent/Teacher conferences make a long school day even longer for teacher!
Today my guest author is Rocketship Education — a nonprofit network of public charter schools in the Bay Area, Nashville, Milwaukee, Tennessee and Washington, DC on Parent & Teacher Conferences. Since they are coming up in a few weeks, I hope this is helpful!
How about you? Please share your tips for getting the most out of Parent/Teacher conferences. Thanks!
My son’s 5th grade Parent/Teacher Conference focused on self assessment that he did of his own work and how he thinks he’s doing.
How to Get the Most out of Parent & Teacher Conferences
By Dustin Lockwood, Academic Support Manager, Los Sueños Academy
Research shows family engagement improves school readiness, student achievement and social skills. Here are a few tips that can make sure that as a parent, you are making the most out of your child’s conference.
1. Questions are the key to understanding
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the moment it might be hard to slow things down to clear up any confusion. With the wide variety of assessments, proficiency levels and core values, it is crucial to walk away with a clear understanding of what needs to be done coming out of the conference. In the past, some parents have found it helpful to write down their questions and bring them to the conference, leaving space to take notes when you get an answer from the teacher. Some examples of questions include:
- What exactly does this assessment mean/measure?
- What does it mean to be on grade level in reading for my child?
- How should my child be performing in order to be on track for college?
- What are strategies I can use to support my child’s learning at home?
2. Next steps keep conferences alive
A great parent teacher conference will always result in next steps for both the teacher and the parent. The best next steps are specific. For example, ask teachers to check in with you by text or phone call in the coming weeks to make sure your student is continuing to make progress. Whatever the next steps are, make them count!
3. Involvement benefits everyone
Conferences are also a great time to find a way to get involved with your school! From volunteering in class, to planning an event, to translating for other parents, to going on a field trip, there are many ways to get involved in your school that can have a great impact on both your student and the community at large.
Make sure to reach out to the teacher during the conference to offer your skills and find a way to support. You may find your calling and have far larger impact than you could have ever imagined! You have so much to offer, and every little bit counts.
Authentic partnerships between teachers and parents help students thrive. These partnerships can start at conferences!
Be sure to take advantage of this first conference and make the most out of it! Whether it is your first conference, or your fifth, make sure to ask questions, develop next steps for both yourself and the teacher and find a way to get involved. This will ensure that both you and your child get the most out of the coming year.