Parent-Teacher Conferences Begin with the Student-Teacher Relationship

How can we make students feel less vulnerable during the Parent-Teacher Conference?

Photo of Gina Marcel
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Ask a student how they feel about the Parent-Teacher Conference and they identify a wide range of emotion. Students report they feel nervous, anxious and wonder if their interests or input is going to be considered. How is that useful when the person being discussed is not involved in or trusting of the process? What if Parent-Teacher Conference begins on the first day of school by strengthening the Student-Teacher relationship? 

Problem - Student's are not involved or trusting of the parent/teacher conference? 

Research - When interviewed, students report they feel anxious about what will be said at the conference. They wonder what aspects of their educational experience/performance will be highlighted and will personal, social issues will be discussed at the conference. If they are not allowed to attend, they still want to have input. They also report they don't want their parents to be blindsided. 

Solution - What if the parent-teacher conference happens with a teacher that the student has developed a relationship with? Students should have regular meaningful contact with the teacher that is holding the conference well before this day. You can facilitate this through a formalized advising program. Advisors are paired with students. There are regular meetings where advisors speak to students about various topics that affect teenagers but not regularly about school and academics. There are safe spaces created to have uncomfortable conversations about everything. And of course, there is a space for academic check-ins, negotiating strategies and mediations. Finally, students should be informed in advance what their grades are and what is going to be discussed at the Parent-Teacher conference. Give students a chance to go home and level with their parents so there are no surprises. 

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Photo of Clint Heitz
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Gina - The idea I currently have in the selection process would be a great way to help build relationships with both the parent and the student. If you're willing, I'd appreciate if you'd be willing to positively evaluate Guideposts to Success and even leave some ideas to help us along in the comment section. Thank you!