One of our jobs as parents is to raise independent, productive members of society.
When they are small they are totally dependent on you. As they get older, slowly, that dependency decreases. Does that mean our job is over?
Another part of parenting is making sure our children have an appropriate education and attending Parent-Teacher conferences is a great way to make sure that is happening.
Parent-Teacher conferences can be such a joy to attend when kids are young.
You walk in to the welcoming classroom adorned by bright and creative artwork. You are approached by the teacher who comes with a smile on their face and an outstretched hand. They show you a folder of your child’s accomplishments and you leave with a feeling of pride. Even if they say your child moves around too much or talks too much, they can still find positive things to say.
Fast forward to the secondary years. You move from teacher to teacher in a crowded gymnasium (or hallway) to see how your child is doing. Are they missing assignments, can they handle the course load? You leave feeling overwhelmed but optimistic that things will improve now that you have been given the tools needed for your child to succeed.
Many parents decide that conferences are not as important once kids reach the secondary years. However, what that student needs to see is that they have a support system. They need to see that they have parents and teachers who care about their education.
As they get older they may not want to attend conferences with you. So why should you bring the sullen grumpy teen that would rather be with their friends or watching Netflix?
- It’s so valuable to see how your child speaks to an adult on their own behalf.
- A teacher gains a different perspective by watching the parent / student dynamic.
But most of all…
You are empowering them by standing by their side and letting them lead the conversation. You are creating an advocate in your child by letting them make decisions in their education.
Thank you for being an involved parent and making the extra time to attend conferences with you child. They may not thank you today but it will leave a lasting impact on them.
To you, the teacher that made a difference in my life, I thank you today during Teacher Appreciation week.
You were there for me and my classmates as our beloved school closed and we moved to a new school outside of our neighborhood. You chose to loop with our class and taught third grade at one school and fourth at the next.
You didn’t know that the years that you were my teacher my parents had separated and you were my constant.
I loved coming into your classroom.
You taught me more than reading, math and science. You taught me that there are people out there beyond my family who truly care for me.
Always there for a hug with a smile on your face. You taught me that that place I wanted to be was making a difference in the lives of kids. You instilled in me a lifelong love of learning.
Never underestimate the impact one person can have on the world.
When I was in high school I remember a lot of kids who were “A” honor roll students. I also remember many who got B’s. But a large majority of the kids were pretty average and got a lot of C’s.
These kids weren’t in danger of failing out.
They were the majority of the kids in the school.
They were your average high school student – “C” students.
Fast forward to now. When a student is getting C’s people start to worry about them.
“Surely they can do better.”
But maybe not.
When I was a senior in high school in 1991 I took Algebra 2. Now, there are 8th graders taking these classes. The 8th graders in 1991 were content working on their pre-algebra. Pre-algebra has now shifted to elementary schools. Those same 8th graders are now taking Pre-ACT tests. That was not even on my radar at that age.
So what has changed?
I’d like to think that kids now are much smarter than I was. However, I don’t think that’s the case.
Should a “C” student feel shamed when they are doing their best work. Students are like babies. Some are more advanced and do things earlier while others make their way along slower.
Will we go back to how it was? I doubt it. I just hope that as kids are encouraged to succeed at a younger and younger age that there are people out there who remember that not everyone can be that “A” student and even “C” students can end up doing fabulous things and being successful people.
As parents it our jobs to advocate for our kids when they can’t and teach them to advocate for themselves. Regardless of their achievement level they all need someone in their corner.
In the past few days I have gone to conferences for 2/3 of my kids. Previously I had thought that it wasn’t as important to go to conferences after they leave Elementary school. But I’ve since changed my stance.
As a rookie high school parent I don’t know much about what goes on in the high school. My only experience is as a high schooler myself which I have a hard time believing was so many years ago.
Does a high schooler still attend conferences?
Mine…. YES! I want to see how the teacher and my child interact.
How do I know the questions to ask now that we have made the leap to high school?
I ask friends and co-workers who have been there.
My oldest child has been struggling in one of his classes. I went to that teacher first. We all decided that the class was not the class my son should be in and that we needed to see the counselor to get him out of there.
3 days later my child has been moved out of the class without incurring a penalty (they call it a penalty I call it an F) and hopefully its smooth sailing from here.
To this I say:
Be present, ask the questions. You are not the first parents in your situation. Trust your instincts.
Now on to the next conferences!