Feedback from the parent community

We moved to Student Led Conferences and parent feedback indicated that they felt there wasn't enough face-to-face time with teachers.

Photo of Lauren Teather
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I teach at an international school in Seoul with a very involved parent community.  Traditionally we held two parent-teacher conferences each year, one in October as we were getting to know students and their families, and one in February.  Only about 4 years ago did we change the February conference to be a Student Led Conference.  Over the years, we received increasing amounts of negative feedback from the parent community about Student Led Conferences.  This was really surprising to me.  Parent complain that they don't get enough face to face time with teachers, and they want to hear individually from each teacher how their child is doing, instead of hearing it from their child, because as they wrote in the feedback survey "We talk to our children every day and already know how they are doing, we don't need to drive to school to hear them tell us again".   We have looked at our approach to Student Led Conferences and tried to redesign how we are doing them, but the parent feedback remains consistent.   I believe Student Led Conferences are a huge part of student agency, but how can we promote that when we have a traditional parent community that has their own (and sometimes opposing) expectations?

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Photo of Clint Heitz

Lauren - If you'd be willing, I would greatly appreciate your support for Guideposts to Success by heading to the post and leaving a positive evaluation, as well as suggestions to grow the idea even more! Thank you!

Photo of Margaret Powers

Thanks for sharing this story Lauren Teather ! How interesting! Have you been able to do an empathy interview with any of your parent community to go in-depth about their ideas, concerns/needs, etc with student led conferences? Do you also have goals for the SLCs that are established among teachers and/or admin/parents? 

Photo of Lauren Teather

Our SLC's have evolved over the years.  We started out using a portfolio and preparing the students to discuss their strengths using evidence from the portfolio and then to outline a plan for goals.  We had a clear vision and purpose for SLC  This was great the first year.  And then the second year, parents complained that this was something they could talk about their students with at home, and they didn't need to drive to school to have this discussion with their kids.  That felt a bit unfair, but our admin wanted us to design a different experience, and I think that's where we lost the focus of our vision and purpose.  We changed our SLC's to try to be more unique in the sense that parents would experience their child's learning in a way they couldn't at home.  So we had students sharing their learning in the science lab by demonstrating their experiments and then reflecting on them (live) ... same for mini live performances, readings, ect.   However, thats where we got our most recent criticism that the parents weren't getting enough face time with teachers.  They want to hear from the teacher about how the kids are doing.  Personally, I think If we had better communication with parents on a regular basis, the parents wouldn't feel like they don't hear from us enough.  

Photo of Margaret Powers

Thanks for that backstory Lauren Teather It sounds like you might have a great insight around regular/ongoing communication as an underlying issue/need. I imagine that might be common at many school and wonder how we might address it?