What is the purpose of an elementary parent-teacher conference?
Elementary parent-teacher conferences provide an opportunity for teachers and educational support staff to communicate information to parents regarding their students’ academic and behavioral progress in school. Additionally, conferences allow teachers and parents to discuss the emotional, mental and physical wellbeing of students. Lawrence elementary schools invite all parents of K-5 students to sign up for a fall conference, taking place the week of November 10.
“While educators are experts in teaching, parents are the experts about their children. It’s a priceless partnership and one that should be maximized,” said Darcy Kraus, Sunset Hill Elementary principal.
What should parents expect during a conference?
During a scheduled conference, teachers will provide information about students’ academic and behavioral progress in class using the Standards-Based Progress Report for the appropriate grade level. The teacher will also share information about students’ achievement on assessments such as Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). The teacher will likely give parents examples of their students’ work that demonstrate achievement in certain areas.
In some schools, grade levels and classrooms, teachers are implementing “student-led conferences,” which are exactly that: conferences during which the student actively participates in the conversation with his or her parents and teachers. This kind of conference provides an opportunity for students to articulate their strengths in the classroom, while verbalizing the areas where he or she may be struggling. Some teachers utilize this conference strategy to encourage student leadership, independence and self-advocacy.
How can a parent prepare for a conference?
Arriving with specific questions to discuss with the teacher can help guide the conversation and ensure that parents leave the conference with the information they need. Here are a few potential questions that may be helpful:
· What are my child’s academic strengths and weaknesses?
· What does my child’s grade reflect? (Homework completion? Skills learned? Test and quiz scores?)
· What materials could I use to help at home?
· How much time should my child spend on homework?
· What kind of homework help should we provide at home?
· Does my child use his/her time effectively in class?
· In what ways do you reward good behavior in class, and what are consequences for misbehavior?
What about after the conference?
Lawrence elementary teachers are committed to having meaningful parent-teacher conferences. Tight conference week schedules do pose some challenges. Parents may wish to schedule a follow-up meeting with the teacher to finish the conversation if, due to time constraints, additional questions remain.