Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's That Time of Year, Again.

The second semester, is the season of many things: testing, graduation, spring fever, and spring break. Sadly, it is also the season for Parent-Teacher Conferences.

Straight to the point.
There is no way to spin the Parent-Teacher Conference, no way to make it sound like a fun get together. If a teacher wants to spread good news and cheer they call home or send a postcard. Rarely, it's a, " your child performed above levels, we want them to skip grades and you're getting tons of scholarship money". I'd tell you to hold out for that one, but I'd rather you be prepared dear parents.

If your child is not in Kindergarten and has never attended daycare, chances are you've never heard of any issues, but any older and I'm sure there has been a few hints.

The minute the teacher schedules the conference, start asking questions: Why are we meeting? Does my child know we're meeting? Will my child be present at the meeting? Will an Administrator be present or the whole Teaching Team? Those last two are probably the most important, they tell the level of seriousness and also give you the opportunity to ask every question you've ever wanted to every single one of your child's teachers AND the person who decides their fate if it's a discipline issue.

Sadly, this is how a many of Parent-Teacher conferences have gone.
After you've settled on a date, start jotting down more questions to ask during the conference, somewhat along the lines of the following: Is this conference the first step or Last resort? What steps have the teachers taken before contacting you? What solutions are the teachers considering in the future? What role do you play in future solutions? Then decide on things that you know have worked in the past for behavior issues, things that work for you at home in communicating with your child. How does your child perceive the situation when explaining the issue to you.

This is much better.
Last, expect your child's teacher to have an agenda also, filled with documentation, Student-Teacher conference records, grades and specific scenarios showcasing the reason why you are meeting. The teacher should also have solutions to offer and possibly even contracts for the student. If the teacher is unprepared, then hold them accountable, ask that they provide the above information and until you do have a final working solution for what ever the problem, grades, behavior, bullying, a serious class crush that is hindering the learning environment don't give up. Do not give up.
Remember, every one has the best interest of your child in mind, everyone is a mature adult and again the end result should benefit your child. Also, if you see an issue occurring that has yet to be addressed by the school then schedule a parent meeting yourself.

Parent-Teacher Conferences can be awkward, disturbing and unproductive, but they don't have to be at all. Study buddies do you have any extra advice for conferences? Any questions to ask? Any examples of good conferences you've attended?

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