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?