Posts Tagged ‘Parent-Teacher Conferences’

Who Should Lead the Parent-Teacher Conference?

June 1, 2016

parent-teacher

As much as I like the logic of having your students lead the parent teacher conferences, I am grateful taht this doesn’t happen at my school. I prefer meeting with the parents without the child present.

Sometimes vital issues are raised that are not for the child’s ears.

Others such as Monica R. Martinez clearly disagree:

 

I can still remember the anxiety I felt when my parents went off to school for the traditional biannual parent-teacher conference like it was yesterday. The anxiety I felt was not even rational: I was a good student, I was on the honor role. So why was this so disconcerting? Probably because a set of “authority figures” were discussing and most likely, assessing, my day-to-day behavior, habits and learning strategies. They were sure to talk about what was enhancing or deterring my performance and I knew I would learn all about it later.

I recognize that the purpose of the teacher-led conference is to honor the expertise of the teacher and solidify a relationship between the parent and teacher. This ensures parents can understand and support their children academically. But there is a different, and I believe, better way for parents to learn how to support their students academically – and that is through student-led conferences.

Instead of having students stay home while their parents and teachers talk about them in the third person, have students lead the conference. The student could be prepared for the conference by the teacher through a collaborative review of their previous work and a guided reflection on the connection between their efforts and the quality of their work. The teacher could kick off the conference with an explanation of the process but move to the side or sit across the table with the parents to serve more as a facilitator than the leader. While the specific logistics and dynamics of student-led conferences vary, the basic spirit is the same: This is the student’s moment to take responsibility for their own learning.

Parent-teacher conferences were a good idea in concept but they reflect a tradition that is too centered on adults. Flipping these conferences to be student-led empowers the student and facilitates a partnership between the teacher and parents that is focused on supporting what the student identifies as her strengths and challenges in learning, not what the teacher or parent identifies for the student.

 

Click on the link to read Tips for Making a Parent-Teacher Relationship Work

Click on the link to read Sometimes It’s Worth Risking a Fight With a Parent

Click on the link to read 10 Tips for Dealing With Difficult Parents

Click on the link to read 5 Helpful Tips for a Better Parent-Teacher Conference

Click on the link to read The Cafeteria Controversy

10 Tips for an Effective Parent-Teacher Conference

October 29, 2014

timmyCourtesy of via The Huffington Post:

 

1. Don’t bring your child with you (unless the teacher requests it): There are times it’s helpful to have a parent/teacher/student meeting, such as when strategizing study skills, organization, or other things where direct communication will facilitate a solution. However, unless you are meeting with that purpose, it doesn’t allow for as much information to be shared between parent and teacher. The dynamic is totally different because when there’s a student in the room, the teacher tends to talk to the student. There may be things I want to say to the parent that I wouldn’t say in front of their child.

2. Ask the teacher how your child is doing socially: A big advantage of attending a school as opposed to home schooling or cyber-school is the social skills that students begin to master only by being forced to interact daily with their peers. For some children, the main stress of school has nothing to do with academics. By middle school, kids aren’t telling you much about their social lives, but their teachers may be able to give you some insight.

3. Come with an open mind: As a parent, I have to remind myself of this often, but my children’s grades and behavior are not a reflection of who I am as a person. They have free will and will make mistakes and decisions that I don’t approve of. It doesn’t make me a bad parent. As a teacher, I remember this too. My goal in working with parents is to be a problem-solver, not a judge. If you are not willing to be open-minded about your child’s challenges, you may walk away from the conference feeling defeated instead of empowered.

4. Bring specific questions or concerns: The toughest opening for a teacher is, “So how’s my kid doing in your class?” Since we only have a few minutes to talk, I’d like to know right away which areas are of concern to you.

5. Share personal information when you can: There are times parents have called to report that a grandparent or a beloved pet recently passed away, there has been a change in home environment for a child, or they are overcoming a serious illness. All of this information helps teachers because students often look or act different in the classroom without explaining what’s bothering them. It’s especially important to tell teachers if your child has been evaluated for learning disabilities or health issues. As a teacher, I have worked as a partner with parents in monitoring kids with food allergies, asthma, and changes in ADHD medication. We are the eyes and ears when you can’t be and can often provide information that will aid you and your child’s health care provider.

6. If your child’s teacher doesn’t provide some positive feedback, please ask for it: The last thing you want is to walk away from a conference feeling sad or hopeless about your child’s school experience. Even kids with the toughest behavioral or academic challenges have redeeming characteristics and good days that we as teachers can point out. If your child is unhappy in school, you may be the emotional dump at home who hears about all the things that went wrong during the day. You didn’t get to witness your children having fun with their friends at lunch or delivering a great presentation to their peers or answering a question that stumped everyone else in the class. We need to focus and build on these little victories together.

7. Tell your teacher what works well at home and what you need help with: You may feel like you’re on your own once your child gets home, but teachers often have tips that may help studying and getting organized at home go more smoothly too. If getting out the door in the morning is an issue, or getting homework done before ten p.m., please ask. Many of your children’s teachers were or are currently raising children. I feel fortunate to have that “insider’s perspective” on how best to work with my children academically and I’m more than happy to share my thoughts because happy, well-prepared students make my workdays pleasant.

8. Take notes: Especially if you are meeting with more than one teacher, you will be hit with a lot of information, too much to process all at once. Taking notes gives you an opportunity to look back on what you learned, possible areas to follow up with the teacher on later, and a chance to see patterns (maybe your child always forgets homework that’s due on Monday, or something else that you may be able to adjust).

9. Tell us what your child loves to do at home: Parents have told me about non-academic skills their children have, unusual hobbies, or passions that lie outside the classroom. When I know these things, I can work to connect them to what I teach, making school more interesting for students and helping them feel like they are essential people in the classroom.

10. Ask your child if he or she thinks there is something you should ask or address: Teachers encourage their students to be advocates for themselves, but there are times kids feel intimidated to talk to a teacher about something. A parent can be the intermediary, at least to get the conversation started.

5 Helpful Tips for a Better Parent-Teacher Conference

October 18, 2012

Five tips courtesy of Carl Azuz:

 

Do your homework

Talking to your child before the conference to find out if he has any questions or concerns of his own can give you ideas of what to address with the teacher.  A good next step:  having a physical list of questions.

The National PTA says that the “questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student’s success in class and for the teacher.”

It’s an idea echoed by Ryan Koczot, an award-winning middle school teacher in North Carolina.  “Parents should come to the conference prepared (note pad, pen, list of questions) – just like teachers should be prepared (information on the child, progress report, questions for the parent).”  This will help get everyone on the same page.

Join forces

Several teachers have told us that the best results follow when parents and teachers work together.  According to Debbie Geiger of Scholastic.com, “The goal of both the teacher and the parent should be the success of the student, but sometimes parents have a hard time discussing tough issues.”

Geiger suggests starting off by complimenting the teacher on something that he or she seems to be doing right – a piece of advice echoed by the National PTA.  This can set a positive tone for the meeting and help foster cooperation later on.

If there’s a problem that has developed between your child and a particular subject or teacher, look for ways to address it together.  “Be a team player,” suggests New Jersey middle school teacher Donna Spoto.  “Let the teacher know that you are on his/her side.”

Open lines of communication

Divorce, remarriage, foreclosure, moving, a new baby:  These are just a few of the personal issues that can affect a student’s behavior and work on campus.

A 7th grade social studies teacher in Tennessee said that one area where parents fall short is letting teachers know of problems in a student’s life outside of school.  “When parents don’t tell us what’s happening, we can’t adjust accordingly.”

Spoto agrees that “stress and emotional issues definitely affect a student’s work.”  By informing the teacher of possible causes, you will help the teacher better understand the child and be more equipped to appropriately instruct him.

Aim for action

Coming up with an action plan to address academic or behavioral concerns can benefit the parent, the teacher and the student long after the conference is over.  The National PTA recommends establishing a series of steps that both you and the teacher agree on.  A couple ideas to consider:  what your short- and long-term plans are, and how you’ll measure progress.

One of first actions you can take after the conference is going over key points and discussion topics with your child.  “Depending on his age and maturity level, he may need help understanding what problems – and solutions – were covered.  Most kids also want to have a clear idea of what’s expected of the teacher, the parent(s), and, most importantly, from [them],” writes Kristin Stanberry of Greatschools.org.

Keep in touch

Once an action plan is in place, try to determine how you’ll follow up with the teacher in the weeks and months ahead.  Will it be through written notes, a phone call, or another conference?  Koczot says that an email or phone contact at school can help the parent “check in on their child weekly or in a couple of weeks to see how they are doing.”

And it’s not a bad idea to inform your child that you’re keeping in touch with her school.  “When a child knows parents and teachers are regularly working together, the child will see that education is a high priority requiring commitment and effort,” according to the National PTA.

 

Click on the link to read Schools Invite Kids to Parent-Teacher Meetings to Subdue Angry Parents

Click on the link to read Mother Films Her Kids Fighting and Posts it on Facebook

Click on the link to read It’s Not Spying on Your Children, It’s Called Parenting

50 Ways To Use Skype In Your Classroom

September 17, 2012

Courtesy of edudemic.com. Below is the first 17 suggestions:

  1. Meet with other classrooms:
    One of the most common projects educators utilize Skype for is setting up exchanges with classrooms around the world, usually for cultural exchange purposes or working together on a common assignment. The program’s official site provides some great opportunities to meet up with like-minded teachers and students sharing the same goals.
  2. Practice a foreign language:
    Connect with individual learners or classrooms hailing from a different native tongue can use a Skype collaboration to sharpen grammar and pronunciation skills through conversation.
  3. Peace One Day:
    Far beyond classroom collaborations, the Peace One Day initiative teamed up with Skype itself and educators across the globe to teach kids about the importance of ending violence, war, and other social ills.
  4. Around the World with 80 Schools:
    This challenge asks participating schools to hook up with 80 worldwide and report back what all they’ve learned about other cultures and languages.
  5. Talk about the weather:
    One popular Skype project sees participants from different regions make note of the weather patterns for a specified period of time, with students comparing and contrasting the results.
  6. Collaborative poetry:
    In this assignment, connected classrooms pen poetic pieces together and share them via video conferencing.
  7. Practice interviews:
    The education system frequently receives criticism for its failure to prepare students for the real world, but using Skype to help them run through mock-up interviews with each other, teachers, counselors, or professionals will help grant them an advantage.
  8. Gaming:
    Merge the educational power of gaming with the connectivity of Skype for interactive (maybe even international!) role-playing and other competitive delights that educate and engage in equal measure.
  9. Hold a contest:
    Challenge other classrooms to a competition circling around any subject or skill imaginable, and work out a suitable prize ahead of time.
  10. Hold a debate:
    Similarly, Skype can also be used as a great forum for hosting formal and informal debates to help students with their critical thinking and research skills.
  11. Make beautiful music together:
    Build a band comprised of musicians worldwide, who play and practice together over video — maybe even hold digital performances, too!
  12. Who are the people in your neighborhood?:
    All the press about classrooms meeting with one another tend to veer towards the international, but some schools like to stay local. These two Tampa Bay-area kindergartens met regularly via Skype, sharing their current assignments with new friends only 10 miles away.
  13. Highlight time differences:
    But there is something to be said about global exchanges, too, as it provides some insight into the differences between time zones — great for geography classes!
  14. Combine with augmented reality:
    Both at home and in school, Skype provides a communication tool for collaborative augmented reality projects using the PSP and other devices.
  15. Mystery call:
    Link up to a classroom in another region and have them offer up hints as to their true location, challenging students to guess where in the world their new friends live.
  16. Each student works a specific job during calls:
    Divvy up responsibilities during Skype calls so every student feels engaged with the conversation, not just passive participants watching talks pan out. Assign bloggers, recorders, mappers, and any other tasks relevant to the meeting and project.
  17. Play Battleship:
    The classic board game Battleship offers up lessons in basic X and Y axes; plus it’s also a lot of fun. Compete against other classrooms for an educational good time.

Click here to read the rest.

Click on the link to read Top 10 Educational i-Pad Apps

Click on the link to read Top 10 Math Apps for Children

Click on the link to read The Pros and Cons of iPads in the Classroom

Students Should be Treated Like People Not Numbers

December 6, 2011

I just read a piece too good to cut into excerpts. It’s written by Sheila French and is about the way she has learnt to approach parent-teacher conferences. She discusses the need to put grades and data to a side and instead, concentrate on talking about the child.

Below is the entire article. It is absolutely worth reading:

In elementary school Parent-Teacher Conferences come and go every year. This year I tried something new with the parents of my third graders at De Laveaga Elementary School. Rather than discussing test scores, grades and assessments I told the families I would like to talk about their child as a PERSON.

There’s no doubt about it, instruction in the kindergarten through high school is data driven. Our students have ID numbers, are assessed at least three times a year, and all of their data is kept on line. Our students are ranked anywhere from far below basic, basic, proficient to advanced.

But how are they as people? 

Are they able to work well with others?

Do they have the skills to make friends and create lasting relationships that will be needed throughout life?

Or our these children little turning into little robots who have “apps” for everything from studying their times tables to practicing for the SAT’s? Do these children of today need to memorize anything when they can run to their laptop and “Google” something?

I say there’s way too much emphasis put on test scores and grades. Let us step back and take a closer look at what our goals are as educators and parents. I don’t think I stand alone when I say that we would like to educate and parent children who have work-ethics, life skills and are well-rounded.

If you go to talk to your child’s teacher, go prepared to talk about your WHOLE child.  Go with a list (just like you’d go to the doctor), ready to ask questions about your child’s social behavior inside the classroom as well as outside on the playground. 

Before your parent-teacher conference, I suggest that you take the time to sit down and talk to your children. Ask them about their favorite classes. Where do they struggle? Do they have friends? Who are they? What do they do at recess? Of course these questions are not limited to pre-conference discussions. They are good conversations to have with your children on an on-going basis.

The playground is just as important as the classroom.

Chances are, the teacher will be more than happy to share some insight about your child as a whole person, not just another test score. Parents, take this opportunity to learn about your child from someone who cares about your child’s social, emotional and education development. This will ensure that our students become GOOD people even in this crazy data-driven world.

Ms. French has echoed many of the points I have made on this blog (although she writes more eloquently). She is absolutely right to point out that the playground is as important as the classroom.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have.


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