The Other Side of Parent-Teacher Conferences

By  | 

At Mommyish, we pride ourselves on presenting multiple viewpoints and parenting techniques. As Mollie has stated before, we might all be better off if we just let parents make their own decisions, discuss them honestly and support each other, whatever the circumstances. Every family is different and we all need to make our own way. So it’s with that principle in mind that I want to present another view on parent-teacher conferences.

Rebecca’s post last week great and honest. For lots of parents who stay involved in their children’s schoolwork on a day-to-day basis, conferences can seem a little monotonous. Her close relationship with her daughter obviously made it easier for her. But for some of us, conferences or interviews give us an opportunity to learn more about our children and their time at school than we see through homework and newsletters.

My mother has been an educator for almost twenty years. She’s dedicated her time and energy into teaching young children.  Watching my mother take such personal pride and ownership of her career, I grew up believing that teachers were the most generous people in the world, both with their affection and their energy. I think all this brown-nosing probably sends two messages very clearly. First, my mother reads this. And I love her with all my heart. Second, and more on topic, I think teacher’s opinions are extremely important and informative.

I agree with Rebecca that major issues and concerns should be brought up immediately, instead of waiting for the end of the semester or grading period. But the best way to create open communication between a parent and teacher is to make every effort to reach out. Teachers don’t just want to go over problems during their 15-minute talks. Most of them prepare portfolios of your child’s work to go through. They use portfolios as examples to show growth and provide areas that parents can work on. It helps parents see their children’s work from an educator’s perspective. Just seeing your child’s classroom can generate conversation and give you a new understanding of your child’s time away from home.

Attending parent-teacher conferences shows your child’s teacher that you value their opinion. It establishes a partnership between the teacher and the parent. Showing your children that you work with their teachers will create respect and accountability for a child.  It also lets kids know that their parents think schoolwork is important. Building a relationship is imperative because it lets teachers know how much you care about your child’s schooling. It will also give you a chance to ask questions and give input. Most teachers welcome your feedback.

Teachers see our children in a different light than we do. They don’t just see their grades. They watch our children interact with their peers. They witness our children’s dealings with figures of outside authority. Teachers see a side of our children that we seldom get to observe. It’s important to learn about that side. It’s necessary for parents to be aware of what happens after drop-off. And teachers, the really wonderful ones, care about your children in so many different ways. They want your kids to learn reading, writing and algebra. They also try to teach our kids helpfulness, kindness and how to be a leader. These qualities are just as important as the ones that show up in standardized tests.

More than anything, learning about our children’s accomplishments is fun! It’s nice to hear how well they’re doing. When I spoke to a teacher about why she thinks conferences are so important, she said, “It gives us a chance to celebrate your child’s strengths. I hate to think that someone finds them a burden. For me, its a joy to share how well the kids are doing.” When I think about it like that, as an opportunity to praise my child for a job well done, it just makes conferences even better.

(Photo: Thinkstock)