Parent Magazine St. Johns November 2018 - Page 17

by Jan Pierce, M.Ed. W hether it’s your first parent-teacher conference or your twentieth, you probably get sweaty palms upon entering the classroom at your assigned timeslot. After all, you’re on the teacher’s turf and you’re about to hear news about your own flesh and blood’s progress or lack thereof. The language routinely used in school settings might not “compute” and you may have real concerns about any number of issues related to your child’s placement and daily life at school. I know from personal experience that teachers also get a bit stressed at conference time. From their perspective, they have a ton of data from each subject area to put into a format that can be conveyed and discussed in about eighteen minutes time. It’s a tall order and has to be done in back to back sessions. Teachers have been known to call the child by the wrong name after nine or ten conferences when they’re exhausted and just longing to go home and put their feet up. But back to you, the parent. You need information. You want to know how your child is doing in relation to the rest of the class. You want to know if there are problems on the horizon and whether or not your child is working up to his or her ability. And, you deserve that information. It’s important that you understand the purpose of parent conferences. In general the fall conference held several months after the beginning of the term is a broad overview of the child’s standing. In this initial conference you’ll hear about progress in each subject area and maybe a few of the highlights of your child’s performance. You’ll probably be given work samples that give evidence of success levels or areas of need. You may get some test scores that serve to set goals for the rest of the year. If all systems are “go” you may S T. JOHNS parent MAGAZINE | 15