Our parent-teacher conferences happen very early in the year and then never again. And by early, I mean less than a month into the year. Is this enough time to gather meaningful information about ALL of your students. I say definitely not. We have 5 minutes to share something about their child, give them something to work on, and express any concerns that we may have. But do I really have any this early in the year? Again, not quite yet. Parents feel rushed as they are herded through such a large school, so they don't feel like they get any substantive information about their child. They feel that it's nice to hear about their kid and to meet the teacher, but very little gets accomplished.
As the teacher, I also feel rushed and that I merely repeat myself time and time again; "You're son/daughter is very quiet", "He/she could contribute more in class". What good is that? They probably already know this. And some parents just like to listen to someone else talk about their kid - to realize the same things that they do. But that's not the point of the PT conference.
We haven't dove into the heart of the class yet. We haven't yet done a project or activity that would bring out their true identity (especially since it's the first few weeks of their freshman year). We're front-loading information and laying the foundation for the rest of the year. Parents agree that the conferences should be structured differently. But how?