The Design of parent / teacher conferences

The parent / teacher conferences is designed with a "scratch your own itch" and not "what's causing the itchiness" mindset.

Photo of Derek Moore
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Who designed parent teacher conferences? Parents, students, teachers? As a teacher, they were always an item on the term calendar, but not too many parents attended, but they were always religiously scheduled . The Diligent and hard working students and interested parents  benefitted from these events, but parent teacher conferences are not intended for only for these students and their parents. What about those parents who were working, didn't have transport, or were unwilling to attend, for whatever reason. Do we take time to understand their position and empathize with them? It's very easy to judge, but maybe ethnographic research into the parent conference is needed so that we can study the people who choose not attend, and enter into their own environment and observe and interview them. If we could use  ethnography to dig below the surface and uncover the complicated processes that lie beneath non attendance of the  the parent teacher conference, we might be able to understand the perspective of the non attendees a bit better, answer difficult questions about why they were not able to participate and empathize better with their position.

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

Can educators use ethnography to put themselves into the shoes of the parents or students who are facing a parent teacher conference?

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Photo of Jessica Lura

I think ethnography is definitely the way to go! Really understanding the people/parents who don't attend the parent/teacher conferences would help provide insights into the usefulness of the conferences as well as a path for reframing how they are organized. I would love to see what you find out!

Photo of Michael Schurr

Hi Derek, thank you for your thoughtful post. You have peeked my interest as I posted about finding extreme users to interview for this challenge.  You post makes me wonder who in your immediate community could you interview to gain deeper insights. Is there a family you are close with who would allow you to conduct an empathy interview? or a student? You could try to use our empathy interview guide as a way to initiate conversation. 

https://9494b7add7fcd9588a83-1f69badc2e0d0c2f55d8bfc02212a52e.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/Empathy_Interview_Guide_R2.pdf