Tomorrow morning I will travel into work, but it will be different. Bells will not sound in 70-minute intervals and controlled commotion in the hallways will not be happening with 400 plus students in one hallway.
Silence. Well, maybe an innocent sound of high heels clacking down the tile floor or reluctant parents not wanting to hear the struggles of their children.
But why fear the almighty parent conference?
“I wasn’t a good student and I want [him/her] to do better than I did,” a parent often echoes. “I don’t want [him/her] to end up on the path I got on. It’s a hard road to hoe.”
I love the voice and passion behind this consistent statement. It’s a voice of a parent who wants to see their child succeed, a voice that is looking out for their child, and a voice that genuinely loves their child and everything they do (regardless of how good or bad). But when you sit down to speak with me about your child there is something missing. It’s as if it’s the last puzzle piece has gone lost.
When I sit down with you, I would love to know you are “with-it” and been having conversations with your child about what is going on in school. Here is a short list of things I wish a parent knew going into a parent conference.
1. Know something about the recent skill or story read in my class
Often parents and I talk about specific assignments where students struggled with in class. This is a great conversation to discuss and show a parent where mastery did not take place, and make a plan to fix it. However, it takes a lot longer when a parent has not been working with their child at home and walking along side them in their educational endeavors.
2. Limit the Excuses
We can blame … well everything … on why things are not going the way we planned; however, it’s time consuming. Let’s look at strategies and ways which have helped your child and build from those.
3. Work with me to develop a plan
By the end of our conference, we need to move forward to the next step. As a parent, I know it’s my responsibility to work with my own child continuously. Whether it’s spending more time reading with them, focusing on homework, or simple writing tasks. As a teacher, I want to make a plan to have your child improve, but the accountability has to come from both ends. The ultimate answer is not “I can have them stay after” all the time. My wife and I both work, but we make time for the important things and nothing is more important than a child. Let’s work together and make a plan where everyone is accountable to help the a student improve.
4. High School Transition and Success
As an 8th grade teacher, I am constantly being asked about the transition to high school and what a child needs to be “successful” next year. By this age, I can tell who would thrive with more hands on training. For instance, my district’s career and technology center is the top shelf quality. Embrace these opportunities! I cannot explain how many students who have entered into the CTE programs, and it has changed their lives forever.
If a student and parent genuinely have no idea what the child is going to do after high school (which is most students), allow them to explore a CTE program. It’s not the ultimate career choice for everyone, but it can offer many life skills that are valuable.