Parent-Teacher Conferences

The students had this entire week of school off for Thanksgiving break and we had Parent-Teacher conferences. Our school stretches this time over three days. Throughout these days, all of the teachers camp out at tables around the commons area and parents can simply walk up to whoever is open. This is a very important time to honor the families involvement in their children’s learning. It was exciting to show parents the work that the students have been doing in class. I have continuously told my students to take the time to show their classwork at home, but I find that many do not. Parent-Teacher conferences provide an opportunity to bridge that gap and honor family involvement in the learning process.

Parent-Teacher conferences are also an excellent opportunity to get the parents on board with what we are doing in class. I am able to give parents a heads up about any learning challenges that their child might be having or that I could foresee occurring in the future. This is also a good platform to discuss any behavioral issues and see if parents resound with the same situations existing at home. Through open communication with parents I have found that many fall into the following two categories: The parents agree with the truths about their child’s behavior in my classroom or they are in denial and decide that I am incorrect. Most of the parents that I have communicated with fall into the first category, however, I have still experienced the latter. This is usually a sign of unrest in the household or a child’s behavior being dependent upon which authority is in the room. Either way, I think it is still important to softly explain my experiences with their child and hopefully we can work together to encourage the student to reach his or her full potential. After this week of conferences, I have learned that a humble and soft heart is going to open a lot more doors into the students’ lives. That is the heart I want to have in and outside of the classroom.
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Family Involvement

How do I as a teacher honor family involvement in the students’ learning process? I think that this starts first with teacher to parent communication. I have already learned that there are some outspoken parents’ opinions that I will hear no matter what. However, this is not usually the case. Most parents do not know how to initiate communication into their children’s’ world at school beyond asking, “How was school today?” I think that this barrier can be broken by teachers stepping out and involving parents in their classroom whenever possible. This means that teachers would take extra time and effort to send emails to families, updating them on what is going on in class.

Grades and comments for the first quarter were due this week. I took this as an opportunity to email parents and give them a rundown of what has been going on in class. In return, parents felt involved in what was going on in their child’s learning and they were encouraged to do more. Many parents don’t know how to help their child with homework because they don’t know what is actually going on in the classroom. To encourage families to be involved in their children’s’ learning process, my school has asked that all teachers post their daily lesson plans on a teaching tool called RenWeb. This has proved to be quite effective because parents are continuously checking in with what is happening in class, and it enables them to be a part of the learning process when students leave school.