For the first time ever, parent-teacher conferences included students in February. This new change has had a positive impact on teachers, parents, and students. Therefore, I believe that from this year onwards, spring and fall parent teacher conferences should remain with students.
Mrs. Heather Levine, a parent whose children attend ASL in grades 6 and 8 attended the conferences this year and said, “I thought it was a really nice way to hear what my kids felt about how things were going and hearing them take ownership of their own work and progress.”
It is fundamental for the parents to hear the responsiveness coming from their children towards their teachers’ comments. This allows them to be on the same page and understand their child’s progress in the classroom.
Since parents are not present with their children in class, it is crucial to have the students in the conversation so that any issues or problems which are addressed can be heard directly from their own teachers. Then, adjustments can be made as soon as possible. Mrs. Solange Kidd, a middle school French teacher said, “I much prefer having the student there because I can tell them directly what I want them to hear. I think it’s more honest way of communicating.”
When parents report information from the conferences to their children, some information can be missed, exaggerated, or twisted into something different. The students were not there to hear in person their areas of strength and improvement. Therefore, by being present and able to contribute to the discussion, students can hear information face to face.
During my conferences, I had to skip my conversations with some teachers because my mother had to conference with my sibling’s teachers too and there wasn’t enough time. Parents such as Mrs. Levine didn’t seem to be able to attend both conferences in one time slot because of the multiple teachers for each student.
Mrs. Levine said, “The only thing was that I couldn’t be with both [of my children] at the same time, so we had to split up.”
The solution to this problem is being organized. If parents are passionate about going to see all their children’s teachers, then they should be able to attend multiple time slots. This will assure that the students can get feedback from all their classes.
I believe that when children take initiative with their own learning, they are better prepared for adulthood. In high school and college, professors are not going to facilitate and control children’s learning and progress. When students are in these conferences, they get a chance to share their thoughts on how they learn in the classroom. This opens the conversation towards positive aspects which are applauded, along with areas of improvement which are discussed. This is a great way to start getting students into the habit of taking responsibility of their learning.
As a student, you need to book one on one time with your teachers when you have questions or want to discuss improvement needed which usually occurs during a break. The conferences is a set time to meet and talk about concerns, issues, and achievements which really should be used to students’ advantages. Previously, students were not able to have the opportunity to use this time. However, now they do. I believe that in order to create a positive educational development in students in the middle school, they should all be included in the understanding and celebration of their own learning profiles.