Life is full of glitches so why should parent teacher conferences be any different. No matter how many years you teach and how many times you conference with parents, sharing information about their children’s school life, there is the moment you wonder how’s it going? I mean you wonder this as you’re talking, looking at the parents faces, watching their facial responses. In my school the November conference in kindergarten is a time for dialogue where we share the child’s transition and adjustment to the kindergarten program. Our focus is the child’s social emotional development and work habits, acknowledging the impact of this, on all aspects of the curriculum. Most conferences go according to plan. We share, we talk, we learn, we gain insights; we the teachers and we the parents. There is laughter as we share anecdotal stories. Most parents have a good sense of their child and are forthcoming in sharing how they view their child, what similarities and/or differences between home and school life. The “Ah ha” moments when something we say or the parents say, that puts things in perspective or shines a different light on an observation, are so rewarding. It works so well when we end our conference with a clearer understanding of the child and a plan of action that are mutually agreed upon; seeing how we can help the child in their growth and development. Most conferences end that way, not all, but most. Then there are the unexpected surprises where we tread carefully as we redirect conversation away from putting blame on behavior that opens discussion about other children. This is one of the tread lightly and redirect discussions to more appropriate territory and ground to cover. We know that parents’ concern about their own child is utmost on their minds, and our role is to help them focus the discussion on their child. When friendships are discussed we guide the conversation back to their child and proceed from there. We understand the concerns they may have, but we also try to help parents understand that we are not here to discuss other children’s behavior. Our role is to work together to help their child in the social dynamic of friendships in a school setting. When conversations about other children turn to physical over-zealous play by peers, here to we redirect the conversation back to finding strategies for their own child to maintain safe play. Today we talked about building resilience, self regulation and accountability. Big words, big terms for kinders, but they need to start somewhere, so why not here, in kindergarten. Our plan of action for the conferences that ended in agreement are all set. And for the few that were unsettled, our role as educators is to acknowledge the different perceptions and be available to continue the conversation.
Is this the time of year you have conferences and what is your focus for the first parent-teacher conferences?
We enjoyed sharing with the parents all the learning going on in kindergarten.