Friday, March 25, 2011

Post-P/T Conference Reflection

Parent/Teacher Conferences can be a source for stress for teachers, parents, and students.  Many look upon these days with at least some level of concern.  Each group has their own type of worry and question:

  • Parent:  "What will the teacher say about my student that I don't want to hear?"
  • Teacher:  "Is the parent upset by the grade his/her student is receiving and believes it to be something I need to do differently?"
  • Student:  "Will my parent be upset when they see my grades?"

These are normal and predictable feelings that each of us likely have in some manner.  If that is the case, why do we do this? 
  • Why DO we go to hear about our children? 
  • Why DO teachers prepare information to share? 
  • Why DO we use hours of potential instruction time to set aside conversations between parents and educators? 
Does this seem productive, worthwhile, and efficient?

As a whole, I can answer that we DO it because it promotes the communication and partnerships that are essential to serving our students.  It brings teachers, parents, and students into a conversation that promotes the success of our youth.  It provides a mechanism for exchange among those who don't get naturally get the opportunity.

When done right, this is an opportunity for adults (and sometimes students) to share, exchange, debate, question, explore, and plan.  When done right, this is an opportunity that is meaningful and productive.  When done right, it is simply good for the student.

That said, it can be done wrong.  In that scenario, we tear down good communication and build defensive strongholds by issuing blame and responsibility to others and close our eyes and minds to possibilities for improvement and collaboration. 

Last night, I was thrilled to see a wonderful turnout at our schools, positive interaction among adults, and several students attending conferences with parents.  Not once did I observe any negative interactions.  For that I credit each of the adults involved, whether parent or educator.  As this is a conscious choice for people, the outcome is a direct result of the approach of both parties.  Although I obviously did not observe every interaction or sit in on every conversation, the atmosphere in our buildings indicated a mutually supportive tone, and that is what is most effective for enhancing student learning and growth.



Anonymous said...

Conferences can be a very positive opportunity for parents and staff. The most positive point of this process is building and supporting the educational relationships that students, parents, and educators have with each other. This relationships starts in the elementary years and is renewed with every new staff member and educational level. Good to hear you witnessed the process in a positive light.

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