Students in Maryline Williams’ kindergarten class know they have a teacher who will help them succeed. The Henry David Thoreau Elementary School teacher is one of 16 Seattle Heroes in the Classroom to be recognized during the 2019 NFL season.
Parent-teacher conferences mean parents and the teacher exchange information for the benefit of the student. Whether the student is a first grader whose parents are helping him or her learn to read or a senior struggling with calculus, conferences can help parents and teachers work together to plan ways they can help the student work to their highest capability and succeed.
Lake Washington elementary teachers schedule two specific conferences with parents each year. Since the 2010-11 school year, students have been part of these conferences. Students set goals and reflect on their work. As a result, parents are more involved in academic goals their child has set for him or herself and better understand how to support attaining these goals. There is also time during conferences for parents to privately discuss issues with the teacher without the child being present.
Conferences are especially important for a teacher, because they provide an opportunity for the teacher to learn more about the student from the parent. Knowing about outside interests, hobbies, and the family may be beneficial in helping students succeed in school.
Parents can prepare for the conference by thinking about the questions they want to ask the teacher. It is helpful if questions are sent to teachers a few days before the conference, if that is possible.
While there are opportunities to meet your student’s teachers, the standard twice-yearly conferences no longer apply. As students get older, they also are expected to take more responsibility for their own learning. But parents still play a very important role. When might you want to schedule a conference with a teacher? Here are some examples:
- Your student is struggling in a particular class and neither of you are clear on what help is available to get him or her back on track.
- Your student has gotten behind and needs a plan to get caught up.
- Your student is really excited about this subject and interested in pursuing it further.
Parental involvement in a student’s education may not be as hands on in the higher grades but students still need your support. Set up your own parent-teacher conferences as needed.
What Could I Ask?
Here is a sampling of questions you may want to ask:
- At what level is my child working in the major subjects?
- What are the reasons that he/she is at a particular level?
- What work do you expect my child to cover during the year?
- In addition to the goals my child has set for himself/herself, are there other areas he / she should work on this year?
- How can I help my student reach her / his goals?
- Does my child arrive in the classroom on time, calm and ready for work?
- Does he / she contribute worthwhile information to the class?
- Does my child work and play well with other members of the class and with other children on the playground?
- Is my child developing good work and study habits?
- Is he / she emotionally mature? What can I do to help with social and emotional growth during the year?
- How can I help you?
Here are a few "helpful hints" that you may find useful as you prepare for your child's conference.
- Make written notes concerning any questions that you or your child may have.
- Please bring these "helpful" notes with you to the conference.
- Try to make specific comments about the report card without comparing it to previous ones or to another child's progress report card.
- Please encourage your child to base his/her feelings of success on setting and achieving goals instead of what is on the report card.