Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Conferences 2017

When I was a principal, conferences were among my favorite times of the year!  Time after time, they reaffirmed an essential belief that I hold: our teachers are great!  As parents were leaving the building, many would stop by my office to give accolades about our teachers and praise the learning experiences their children were having throughout the year.  This provided terrific informal data that supported the positive relationships and learning environment we created together.  What a great feeling for our teachers and families!

Fall conferences might be the first time teachers are meeting parents, other than a friendly, "hello" during drop off or pick up, and the occasional family night.  Conferences are a time when teachers get 10-15 minutes (depending on the district) to showcase academic, social and emotional learning goals that students are setting and demonstrating progress toward throughout the school year.  Sometimes, parents don’t know what to expect … and neither do teachers!  It is extremely important that we are confident in our abilities to showcase the academic, social, and emotional progress and future goals that empower students to grow throughout the school year.  

The conference is an important event to make a great impression with parents and provide descriptive feedback of their student’s progress and goals.  Please help parents believe what we already know… there is no better teacher for their child!

Our teachers do a great job planning and providing parents with a terrific information and strategies of support; however, at times it is based on what we think parents need to hear rather than what they want to hear.  It is important to have a nice balance of both. So, what questions do you think parents really want answered when attending a conference?  These are the questions parents might not ask …but might just have on their mind.  Below are 10 questions to consider:

  1. Is my child safe (socially, emotionally, physically) at school? Do they have friends?
  2. Is my child’s teacher a happy person and is my child happy at school?
  3. Does my child’s teacher love kids?
  4. Does the teacher look for the uniqueness in my child?
  5. Is the teacher finding joy within the teaching profession?
  6. Is the teacher competent?  Is it evident that the teachers knows curriculum and how to impart knowledge?  
  7. Is my child learning … and more importantly, does my child love learning from this teacher?
  8. Is the teacher consistent?  Does the teacher do what they say?
  9. Does my child’s teacher clearly communicate expectations?
  10. Is homework purposeful?  Is homework targeted and differentiated practice, allowing for choice that empowers students to assume responsibility of their own learning?  

I am sure you can think of other questions that parents might consider.  Again, these are questions that may not be asked; however, parents will be thinking about them when sitting across the table from you during conferences. Or at least these were some of the questions my wife and I considered when at parent/teacher conferences.   

Most importantly, make sure parents leave your room with no question in their mind, you are the best teacher for their child!  It all comes down to positive relationships with teachers, parents, and ultimately students, that will enhance success during conferences and throughout the year.  Enjoy conferences, making it a great experience for everyone!