Although it is not required to meet with every student's parents during this time, I invite all my families to these conferences. For students who are struggling, it gives me the opportunity to express concern and offer suggestions for improvement. For students who are on or above grade level, I get to share funny stories and celebrate with families about their child's success. And for those cute students who are driving me crazy with their off-task behavior, I get a chance to collaborate with parents about motivation and consequences.
Conference time also reminds me that I am not alone in the difficult task of teaching children. When I share a behavior concern with parents, I see a look of recognition cross their faces: Sí, Maestra, we have the same problem at home. When we discuss academic successes, both parents and teacher puff up with pride. And when we brainstorm ideas for improving reading, writing or math scores, we share a look of concern as we hope for progress in the coming months. These moments between the teacher and the parents are powerful for me. I am reminded that we are all on the same team. We all want the best for this smart, funny and unique child who touches each of our lives on a daily basis.
Conferences also present an interesting perspective. For each parent, their child is the most important in my class. Over the next two days, I will get to share funny student stories and brag about accomplishments to parents. When I have to deliver difficult information, I will do it in a sensitive and caring way that let's parents know that I care about their child. Because, even though I have a class of twenty-eight, during each conference, I only have a class of one. It is a wonderful thing to watch the families interact and to let each child have a chance to be the star. It reminds me to carry that good feeling beyond the conferences and into the daily routine of the classroom.
In my opinion, teachers miss a wonderful bonding opportunity with families when they only meet with a few students for spring conferences. I know it takes more time and can be a lot of work, but the positive feelings and renewed energy from these meetings make it all worth it. When conferences are over, I definitely feel exhausted (I always end up doing a lot of talking!) But I also feel encouraged and supported! I know that with a positive attitude, a burst of energy and a good relationship with parents, I will make it to the end of the school year!
--How are you surviving conference time? Share your stories here!