Food for Thought

We can draw insights and inspiration to redesign the parent-teacher conference by learning from the restaurant industry.

Photo of Donna Teuber
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As I began to reflect on my experiences with parent-teacher conferences, as both a teacher and a parent, food began to surface as a common theme. We try to provide teachers with food before conferences begin and we also try to schedule events during times that don't disrupt family meals. Many schools even provide meals for families.

Thinking about food, I began to look at how restaurants meet the needs of a diverse group of customers. We can draw inspiration from the restaurant industry to help us redesign the parent-teacher conference.

Choice - Restaurants can be specialized with a specific cuisine or they can provide a wide variety of food choices. Even restaurants that specialize will usually provide options for vegetarians and others with special needs.

Location - Restaurateurs know that location can make or break a business. The food truck industry is booming because of the advantage of being able to move your business around to busier locations.

Delivery method - Some restaurants are full service while others provide buffets or ordering at the counter. Many restaurants provide a variety of options to meet the needs of a diverse group.

Limited Seating and Times - Every restaurant has to manage seating a large number of people while minimizing wait time. Options include reservations, call ahead, and first come-first serve. Some restaurants provide bar seating and entertainment whiles guests wait. 

Waiters and Waitresses - The most important person in a restaurant is the waiter or waitress. Their service to the table makes all the difference. The food can be great, but the experience will be terrible without good service.  

Managers - Good management also makes all the difference in the success of a restaurant. Managers juggle schedules to make sure that staffing is appropriate and that the restaurant is in good shape to serve customers.

Food Quality - The food is what it's all about. The food being served has to be great quality or customers won't return. Bad reviews will be posted online and before you know it, no one will come to the restaurant.

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe something you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research.

Designing a successful parent-teacher conference is complex and involves providing choice, quality of service, convenient location, and great leadership to meet a wide variety of needs.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Clint Heitz

Hey, Donna! I've greatly appreciated your support so far on the Guideposts to Success idea. I hope you will take the time to support it in the selection process, too! Thanks!

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