15 Oct 2015

Discontinue Parent Teacher Conferences

Discontinue Parent Teacher Conferences

I want to start with a disclaimer this post is purely my opinion regarding the present practice of parent teacher conferences and what purpose they serve. As a former teacher I can say I professionally and personally found value in parent teacher conferences but can honestly say if the school were to discontinue parent teacher conferences there would be little to no negative impact on my effectiveness as a teacher.  I would have continued to connect with parents as a normal practice.

Last night I attended my daughter’s parent teacher conferences with my wife.  I have attended these bi-annual meetings for the past 23 years as either a teacher, principal or parent.  What I have taken aware is the vast majority of the teachers want to build relationship with their students’ parents.  They have also been conditioned to believe this can only occur during the 5 minutes slots per parent twice a year.  I have also experiences most teachers use this time to talk about effort, compliance and interpersonal skills of my child.  The extent of discussion around  academics consists of reading off the grade book with today parents have real time access to already.  I do not question the commitment and compassion of the vast majority of my children’s teachers but I do know there is little to no professional development or expectations for the parent teacher conference formats and intended outcomes.

I believe we must discontinue parent teacher conferences as we know them.  In their place should be a multi-faceted approach to connect with parents on a regular basis through electronic means and one on one conversation.  What I believe the topic should be is how the student connects the concepts taught in class with other concepts to form their real world perception.  I believe student work artifacts should be shared and that the student should be the moderator and lead the exchange of information between the teacher and their parents.

To be clear, I believe there should be a strong relationship of communication and openness between teachers and their students’ parents.  I also feel we must discontinue parent teacher conferences as we currently know them and embed the purpose of these meetings into the entire academic year.

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