This week, I am sharing a post that I send out every year around this time because it is parent-teacher conference time!
Relationships have long been a focus for us here at Feaster Charter. We have done work to get all learners including students, parents, and teachers involved in what we are doing here on campus. We are providing so many positive opportunities to our students and when we are able to share those experiences with our families, it ensures that the learning is even more powerful because it can be extended and applied to conversations that are happening at home with parents. How powerful would it be if our students could have conversations at home about what they learned at school? In order to do this, it is our responsibility to build and foster relationships with our community so that they feel welcomed on our campus and so that they learn new ways to support their learners.
The overall purpose of parent-teacher conferences:
- foster relationships with the families
- open our doors and communicate about the progress that students are making
- make goals that can be achieved through hard work both at school and at home
When we communicate each of the above topics during the conference and make sure that the students are part of the conversation, we are working together as a team. The students start to realize that there is follow-through at home based on what is happening at school and on campus. Academic conversations start to be part of the everyday routine and parents feel more involved in their child’s education.
What to Share
Beyond reflecting on grades and character strengths, it is important to get all learners included in the conference. Share what you know and appreciate about the student during the conference, which lets parents know that you know their child. Hear from your student as well, give students the opportunity to reflect on their own learning. One way to do this is through student-led conferences which allow students to take ownership of the meeting. Below are some resources for you to use as you to consider student-led conferences.
Student-Led Conferences – Resources:
Have an Agenda, but be Flexible
There are definitely topics that must be discussed during conferences: academic growth, areas of struggle, character strengths, etc. These are, of course, all important topics to be covered; however, they should not be the only things that are discussed. As you hear from the parents and the students, their comments can help you understand more about what they need to feel supported and successful.
There are times when the scheduled time slot is simply not enough to get everything covered. If this is the situation, a follow-up can be coordinated with the family. When this happens, explaining that you understand there is more to discuss and will follow up with them shortly regarding their individual questions, makes sure that their concerns are still addressed and action is being taken. I would also suggest asking how best to contact them – email, note home, Class Dojo, phone call, etc.
Resources for Families
We have so many resources for our families, but a lot of our families do not know that they are available. Conferences can be a great time to share some of the ways that parents can check their students’ grades, assign extra work at home, and stay in communication with Feaster.
- Positive Parenting Hours
- Library Hours
- ILE at home (see more below)
- Class Dojo
- Feaster Social Media pages
- Free WiFi locations in the community
- Attendance Matters
Free resources for families can be found in the counseling department – if you feel that you have a family that could benefit from these, you can leave them out in a neutral area in your room along with other generic resources or you can refer them to Ms. Figueroa or Mr. Nickeson in the counseling department. You may not want to push these resources on them so as to not offend or make assumptions, but at least providing them and communicating that there are a lot of resources available from our counseling department may be helpful. They have resources for:
- Tutoring options for students free and some of charge
- Food Banks in the San Diego area
- Legal and Immigration Services information
- Family Resource Center information
- LGBTQ Youth Center in Chula Vista Pamphlet
- San Diego Youth Services Emergency Shelter
- Domestic Violence Services and Shelter
- Information for applying for Healthy Families
Resources for Conferences – PDFs and Link
Below are resources that can be shared with families based on student and family needs. These can be given in a packet or they can be conversed about throughout the conference.
ILE at Home Instructions (Spanish) anywhereaccess_Spanish_ILL_0518 (1)
ILE at Home Instructions (English): anywhereaccess_English_ILL_0518 (1)
In your folder for each individual student, keep notes or reminders that will help you follow through on the promises made during the conference. Make sure that you reflect on what was said by both the parent and the student so that you can best support the learner and help them progress towards the goals you have created together. Open communication through email, Class Dojo, phone calls, anything will help make sure that the goals you create and set during conferences are being worked towards both at home and at school.
Conference times can be exciting and/or hectic, but if we always keep in mind that this is our time to hear from parents and students and communicate what is happening in our classrooms, we can be sure that they are effective and purposeful. Keeping communication and focus on being transparent about our academic procedures can make our conferences go smoothly and help develop positive relationships within our school community.