And When We Talk: Parent-Teacher Conferences

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These past two Fridays I spent my day not with the kinders, but with their parents, talking about them. It was time to discuss the kinders’ progress in all areas of our kindergarten program from their social-emotional development to language arts, math, social studies and science. Also included in the report was their work with the specialists (art, music, library and P.E.). After comprehensive assessments, taking many forms (we don’t test nor are we mandated by CCSS), we met to have a conversation with the parents. We fill out a check list on skills and then write a narrative in the different areas of our reports. We sat talking about their children. It was quite heart warming to hear them tell us what their children say about school from friendships, to teachers, to things they’re learning; the kindergarten curriculum through the kinders’ eyes! In our conversation we both gleaned a better understanding of their child’s home and school lives and how it impacted their learning. In our talks we looked to each other to support their child at school and at home. In many of the conferences the parents were pleased with the child’s progress, some had questions about summer plans for them and some wanted to know how they could support their child in their more challenging areas. We talked, we laughed and nibbled at some snacks that we provided to put us all at ease. In our school we team teach and in kindergarten we have  an assistant, so the three of us could add so much more about their kinder, giving the parents a fuller picture of their child’s school life. For the most part the conferences went well. We feel there were no surprises for the parents. We are honest in our conversation sharing their child’s strengths and challenges (whether social, inner disruptions or academic). We have many opportunities and various ways to communicate with our parents to let them know how their child is doing, way before any formal conference date. 
And I left Friday afternoon knowing that I would be thinking and reflecting. 

I wrote this post to share some of my thoughts about conferences. For many adults communicating in an open honest way is a formidable experience.  But as teachers, and advocates for our students that is truly our mission. With respect, kindness and and the knowledge that parents are doing their best to raise their children, we listen to understand!

Most of my day is spent with 5 and 6 year olds, these are my kinders and they have been a major part of my life since 1991! I don’t know when or if I ever decided that this would be a lifelong commitment on my part to this age group or grade.  But I truly believe that this has been a GOOD FIT for me; balancing the academics (reading, writing, arithmetic, social studies and science) and all it encompasses, with the developing social-emotional needs of kinders. The time with my kinders has helped me hone in my craft. I see this as a craft of the highest order! My kinders are developing empathy, learning kindness,  problem solvers and engaged in their world of wonder. They are playful, energetic filled with joyful exuberance. 

And when I sit with their parents, this is what I want them to know about their child.

I am curious how teachers communicate with parents’ their child’s reports? Do you meet with all your parents to talk about their child’s progress? Do have a checklist and write a narrative to support your conversation with the parents?



 

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4 Responses to And When We Talk: Parent-Teacher Conferences

  1. Hi Faige.

    So I teach high schoolers and I’m also the director of the preschool, preK & K programmes at my centres. This means I talk. I live and work in Jamaica and it amazes me how many parents avoid discussions about their kids. I guess we listen to the lack of conversations and the lack of interest in conversations about kids.

    Anyways, in my conversations I always try to highlight the strengths first and foremost. It’s important (I think) to get parents at ease initially. Then I often work my way into how we can support the student in various ways.

  2. faige says:

    Thank you for leaving a comment. I agree so important to start from the positive so parents more open to hear your ideas. I try to remember when talking with parents that I don’t “walk in their shoes” and so much is left unknown and unsaid.

  3. I teach approximately 140 high school students and we have 6 hours of open conferences (no scheduled times) each semester. I have made a point of talking about the child first, their strengths and what we have been working on in class. Parents are often eager to get to the numbers and I try not to fall into that trap since I work with children for much more than a grade.

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