It’s parent teacher conference time across Worthington. Our Middle and High Schools held conferences this week in the evening. Our elementary teachers have been meeting before school, after school, over lunch, and will use time both today and Monday to meet with parents.
As a child I distinctly remember waiting out in the hallway while my parents would meet with my teacher. I had to sweat out each and every anxious minute. My mom was an amazing conscientious mom (still is), but she would go in with what seemed like 100 different questions that she needed to ask the teacher. Was I turning in my assignments? (unlikely), was I using my best handwriting and taking my time on my assignments? (also unlikely), did all the papers I turned in have army battles or football plays diagrammed on the back? (very likely). Would I have a chance to move to the next grade? Is there even a slight chance I could someday go to college? Would the army maybe take me..? Mom had lots and lots of questions. Dad, he just looked at me with one of those looks that told me, “this better go well, son, or you better be able to outrun me when this is over…” Those conferences that may have lasted 20 minutes seemed to me as a child to take days. Slow, hot, long, summer days with no shade in sight.
Today I monitor my fifth grader’s grades all quarter long using the Infinite Campus app on my IPhone. When report cards comes around I have known what her grades are for weeks. By this point I have also communicated with the teacher via email, text, and at many different events. Parent-teacher conferences are no longer the single time our teachers communicate with our parents. They are in constant communication one way or another. However, the parent-teacher conference is still important.
The truth is, teachers and parents often see different aspects of a student’s personality. Only by maintaining an open dialogue and comparing notes on the student’s achievements or behavior can these perspectives be useful for both.
When parents take advantage of parent-teacher conferences and other opportunities to speak with teachers, it often allows parents to learn of any challenges — academic or otherwise — their child might be having.
By the same token, parents can let the teacher know of any special circumstances at home that might have some bearing on the student’s performance or behavior.
This week my wife attended the parent teacher conference for my first grader and for my third grader. I had a commitment at work that couldn’t be changed, and thus she was left to go and listen to the teachers. Next week we’ll both attend for my fifth grader’s student-led conference. As an adult I enjoy the parent teacher conference. My own kids don’t seem to have the same fear I had of my parents speaking to my teacher. They are excited by the feedback they receive, both from the teacher, and from us. I appreciate our Worthington teachers. They’re working hard to meet with each and every parent and they’re spending incredible amounts of time to prepare feedback that is helpful to both parents and students.
Hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher this week. If you haven’t make it a priority. It will be a good investment of your time.