Parent/Teacher Conferences

November 12, 2008 at 2:13 am Leave a comment

PT confParent/Teacher Conference are a part of the teachers job description. As a professional, it is the teacher’s role to maintain a line of communication between home and school. Late Fall is a time where Parent/Teacher Conferences become a prominent issue. Public or Private. Elementary or High School. College prep or vocational schools. It makes little difference, Parent/Teacher Conferences are a fact of life for the pre-collegial teacher. There are different types of conferences basically driven by how many people are involved and what is the purpose of the conference. This time of the year the school-sponsored Parent/Teacher Conference are prevalent. These formalized conferences are by far the most demanding and exhausting. But any conferences can be nerve racking. As the school formatted day of parent/teacher conferences arrived, chances are that the teacher has already had the opportunity to confer with several parents. Teachers or parents, administrators or counselors, special education personnel can request a conference at any time for any reason. There are common components to any Parent/Teacher Conference. Experienced veterans have learned the mechanics of a Parent/Teacher Conference. Most have learned the hard way. They made mistakes and paid dearly for it. It is the intent here to provide an opportunity for the experienced teacher to refresh what they already know and offer the rookie a few pointers.

Parent/Teacher Conference can be classified according to circumstance. The following is a list of types of Parent/Teacher Conferences. These are presented as a means of discussion.

 

The School Parent/Teacher Conferences

    • Initialed by administration on a school wide basis
    • Designed to offer a chance for parents and teacher to discuss the progress of pupil.
  • The one-on-one conference
    • Initialed by teacher, administrator or parent
    • Usually to discuss an issue
    • The Phone call
      • Initialed by teacher or parent?
      • Variety reasons
    • The Informal Conference
      • Initialed by parent or teacher
      • Avoid school issue if possible
  • The small group conference
    • Initialed by an administrator or counselor
    • Usually to discuss a common problem in situations where more than one teacher interacts with a pupil
    • The Special education Conference (usually referred to as a staffing)
      • Initialed by Special Education Department
      • To determine if a child needs special Education services or update an enrolled pupil.

 

back to school text 2 Simple Reminder

THE SCHOOL PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES:

Each year the school organizes a Parent/Teacher Conference. In fact most schools have two conferences in the year as well as a “Back to School Night”. These conferences have a set structure. Teachers are in their classroom or, especially in secondary school, the gymnasium. The hours of the conference may be all day, late afternoon into evening or just late evening. Appointments can be made or parents can just roam in as they are available. In some cases, parents pick up report cards at a Parent/Teacher. conference. The difficulty with this conference is the volume of pupil information. Teachers can have 20 to 175 pupils. Preparing for the 20 isn’t too bad but it is difficult with 175. The key to success is to have a set routine to occupy the parents while you quickly access the pupils information. It is important to present the information without relying too much on the grade book. Appointments are much better than the random arrival. Teachers usually have no classes on Parent/Teacher Conference day. It is a rigorous and demanding day. Some school districts still require teachers to teach the school day and then host Parent/Teacher conferences until 9:00 in the evening. It is important to take a break every so often and move around. Too often the parents most wanted to be seen either do not show or arrive so late that the time is not enough to fully to discuss the problems.

THE ONE-ON-ONE CONFERENCE

Teacher initiated usually indicates a problem that needs to be addressed. The problem may be academic or behavioral. Parent initiated usually indicates a concern about something that the child is saying at home. Pupils tend to embellish things to explain away school problems. One of the most common calls comes from the parent who cannot understand why the teacher is not assigning homework. The parent goes on to say that the teacher told them that there was homework three nights out of the week. His grades are poor and he is doing poorly. When the teacher explains that there is homework assigned, the parent sometimes will shift to the argument that the teacher should have called the parent and informed her that her son is not doing his homework. The best way to avoid the issue is to have called home but sometimes mistakes can be made. The parent is right. The teacher should have called but the child not doing homework is a clear indication that a problem exists. The parent is partly at fault as well. It is best to say that a new approach on both parts is needed. The teacher should remind the parents of a rough guideline of homework assignments. The parent can then observe the work at home. When the teacher is concerned with an academic or behavior problem, parents can be helpful with identifying the problem. The teacher needs to be specific as to the identified problem: Grades on tests are very low. He seems distracted in class. He has difficulty discussing reading assignments. He talks out when the class is involved with a quiet activity. He appears to have a difficulty relating to authority figures. Teachers need to be careful not to express problems in demeaning terms or gross generalizations. THE PHONE CALL is a one-on-one but it is a quick convenient and effective means of identifying a problem. It is not good for a lot of problems or a major concern. No homework, talking out inappropriately, poor test grade, etc. THE INFORMAL CONFERENCE is a one-on-one as well. It however is the conference to avoid. Meeting a parent in a store or on the street or at a party, is not an appropriate place for a conference. Confidentiality is a concern. Approaching a parent in a public place to discuss a child’s school issue is unprofessional. A parent approaching the teacher can be a problem. In both cases, it is suggested that the teacher suggest a meeting time at school (the teacher’s office) where the child’s privacy can be maintained.

THE SMALL GROUP CONFERENCE

This conference involves a group of people and the parents. There are three kinds of Small Group Conferences: The counselor calls an academic summit with all a pupils teachers and the parents, the administrator organizes a meeting of teachers and parents to address behavior issues and the Special Education Conference which addresses issues involved in Learning Disabled pupils. These “staffings” are regulated by Federal, State and Local rules and laws. A staffing involves a special education teacher, the person running the meeting, a regular education teacher (sometimes more than one), a psychologist, social worker, nurse, academic counselor, school administrator, parents and pupil. Staffings, for obvious reasons, are confidential. Personal information is private should not be divulged or discussed outside the conference room. This is general principle for any conference. The information is privileged and like a doctor, lawyer or priest it should be kept confidential. The end product of a staffing is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP spells out the skill that needs to be addressed. Activities that address the issue. And a timeline is often included. All teachers, regular and special Education, that interact with the pupil should be aware of the IEP. Knowledgeable parents will confront the teacher during a conference to ensure that the plan is in operation.

There is so much more to be said but at this point there is more than enough to digest. Years of teaching experience help to melt the occurrences of many parent/teacher experiences into providing excellent Parent/Teacher Conferences.!

 

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