What do you expect from parent/teacher conferences?

Last week I attended parent/teacher conferences. I find these conferences valuable, but I’m not sure the teachers understand what parents want to hear.

When I arrived for the middle school parent/teacher conferences, I went into the cafeteria to meet with my son’s teachers. Some teachers had short lines with only one or two parents waiting, while others had a line running to the center of the cafeteria.

I don’t like waiting in long lines, so I began with the teachers with the shortest lines. It was easy to see why their meetings with parents went quickly.

These teachers were able to:

  • Quickly access the student’s grades.
  • Identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Share one or two things their class had already learned.
  • Share an upcoming project or subject matter.
  • Suggest ways for my student to improve.
  • Ask me (the parent) if I had questions.

After waiting in a really long line, I was finally able to met with the fourth period teacher. I understood right away, why the lines had been so long.

Things I didn’t need to hear at parent/teacher conference:

  • How the teacher decided to grade each assignment.
  • The details and rubrics of each project.
  • The course syllabus.

I’m sure this kind of information is useful to some parents, but most of this information was handed out at the beginning of the school year. I can check my kids’ grades online. I can see the rubrics and grading scale for assignments that are sent home. I am not meeting with the teacher to understand how the class is run and how he/she formats the grade book.

When I attend a parent/teacher conference, I want to learn:

  • How my child is performing in class.
  • If my child is attentive, engaged, involved and learning.
  • If my child is doing well, or struggling.
  • Suggestions how I can support my child’s education at home.

What do you expect from parent/teacher conferences?

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