Parent/Teacher AND STUDENT Conferences

Posted by Larry Roth on 10/11/2017

How about Parent/Teacher AND STUDENT Conferences?

As a student, I may have been described as a lot of things.  Being a 4.0 student was not generally one of them.  Typically, mom would come home from conferences and say, “Your teachers tell me you could be an A student if you would just apply yourself.”  I particularly remember one conference as mom was waiting to talk with my English teacher.  I decided that if I waited with her, my teacher may have gentler things to say about me.  Before the conference began, I was politely asked to go away.  Looking back, a great opportunity was missed for the three of us to have a frank conversation about my progress, hold me accountable for my level of effort, and possibly find solutions.

Today, the value in parents, teachers and students meeting together during conferences is recognized as a potential change agent for progress.  I have always found it best to get everyone in the same place at the same time when discussing important things.  The same holds true for conferences.  In fact, there is even a process called “Student-Led Conferences” where each student presents their progress to their parents and the teacher.

In a blog from 2015, Peter Dewitt discussed the typical conference where teachers and parents, even in the presence of the student, talk "around" the student regarding progress.  In his writings, he posed the questions:   

  • What if we asked (each student) to articulate and provide proof of their own learning? 
  • What if each student prepared evidence of learning to show their teacher and parents what had been achieved through their own efforts? 
  • What if we put the student at the center of the conference and the learning?

I think Mr. Dewitt’s insight towards a “student centered” conference is on the mark.  Each student should have the opportunity to describe their experience in the classroom.  If students are able to give feedback to their teacher and parents about how they learn best, it may chart a better course for both student and teacher for the rest of the year.

Please take advantage of this time to meet with your student’s teachers.  Have your student attend the conferences with you.   Put your student at the center of the conference and allow them the opportunity to describe their learning experience.  Being able to identify personal strengths and challenges as well as how to work best with both is a skill they will use the rest of their life. 

See you at conferences!!