Thursday, March 23, 2017

Parent/Teacher Conferences and Student Relationships

Tonight (or yesterday by the time this is posted) was Parent/Teacher Conferences at my high school. They take place after teaching all day and we meet with parents from 5-8 at night. It makes for a long day. On top of that, the wifi crashed and I was not able to pull up specific grades for the students. I was stressed that it was going to be a long night.

What the night turned out to be was very light on student grades and more about relationships. I was able to focus more on the connections I had with students, what I knew about them outside the classroom, and where I think they were heading as a person, not just a student. I could see the reactions from the parents were much different than the times that focused on their grades with only minor commentary on the student as a person. By being forced to flip the focus, I found much more to talk about and to connect with parents. I've always lamented that the parents I see most often are the parents of students who are already excelling in class. I realize now that those parents are not there to just hear that their son/daughter is amazing, but to see how they are as a person in class.

As a father who son is now in Kindergarten, I can see that. I know how Leo is doing in school and I have a handle on what he is and is not learning. When I meet with his teacher, I am going to want to know about his interactions with peers, his behaviors in class, whether or not the teacher knows my son. It will be the most comforting part of the meeting. I need to keep this in mind when I'm ready to take out the digital gradebook and focus on the numbers and not the person.

I've told my students that they are more than a letter grade year after year. It's time for me to remember to reinforce that with the parents during conference time.