Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Parent/Teacher Conferences

(Cross-posted on The Fischbowl)

At my high school we hold parent/teacher conferences in the fall and spring. In the fall it's two consecutive nights from 4:00 - 7:30 pm and in the spring it's just one night. All the teachers are in our two gyms and we have "five to seven minute conferences" with parents.

You probably won't be surprised to find out that I don't particularly like this format. While I think it's great we dedicate time for conferences, the one-size-fits-all conference format isn't ideal, and I would much prefer that the students be present for the conference as well. (In fact, I would prefer student-led conferences, but I could live with students-at-least-being-present conferences).

Having said that, this is the format and structure I have, so I'm trying to make it be as meaningful as I can. I had intended to write this post about two weeks ago, so that I could get feedback before conferences were upon us, but that didn't happen. So, instead, I'm going to share what I just gave to my students and ask for feedback so that if I'm still in the classroom a year from now I can do this better next time.

Below is what I shared with my students (inside Google Apps - they write to the prompt and put it in a folder shared with me). I'm going to ask them to share it with their parents before conferences (I may even email it to their parents before conferences, still deciding), but I will also have it available at conferences in case they did not. I'm also going to email the parents to encourage them to come and to tell them that I think it's very important for the student to be present if at all possible.

I would love your thoughts/suggestions for ways to make it better (although please keep in mind the restrictions I'm working under - I don't have the ability to change the basic format of the nights).

Parent/Teacher Conferences are coming up next week. Since these conferences are about you, I think you should be there. It makes very little sense to me that we should have a conference about you and you’re not there, so I’m encouraging your parents to come and to bring you with them. Please bring your Algebra notebook as well, so that we can look at your work if we need to.

Whether you end up attending or not, I want you to spend some time thinking about what you want your parents to know about this class and how you are doing. Here are some questions for you to respond to.
  • Has class met your expectations? Why or why not?

  • What’s going well for you?

  • What’s challenging for you?

  • What could I do as your teacher that would help you be more successful?

  • What could you do as a student that would help you be more successful?

  • Is there anything your parents can do to help you be more successful?

  • Is there anything else you think your parents should know about this class or about how you are doing in this class?
Please be thoughtful and specific in your responses, and please don't wait until the last minute, as I want you to put some real thought into this. The more you put into it, the more valuable it will be for you, me and your parents.


1 comment:

  1. I think this is a Great way to work within the set-up you have. Encouraging the kids to come and the parents to bring them. I also like that you are having the students reflect on their own work in class prior to the conferences. I don't know what kind of time you have before these happen, but it might be nice for you to sit for a couple of minutes 1:1 with each student during a class period to discuss what they wrote.

    Hope it goes well!