11 Replies Latest reply on Dec 18, 2010 7:46 AM by Bowerman@cox.net

    Parent-Teacher Conferences

    Bowerman@cox.net

      As parent-teacher-student conferences begin, I think about each role I've had in this annual ritual. As a student, I waited anxiously at home for my mom to return home and fill me in on what the teacher said. As a parent, I always quizzed my sons before heading off to school, hoping that the report I heard there was the same as the ones I heard from my sons. As a teacher, I try to change this cycle by providing parents with electronic information - an updated webpage with homework, newsletters, schedules, and student web pages with their work. My parents also have access to their child's grades, attendance, and schedule through a parent portal. Email and texts connect us on a regular basis. More importantly, my parent conference are really student-parent-teacher conferences with students leading the way. The children share their work and set goals with their parents for the next quarter. They also share their electronic portfolios - collection of the work they have done during the quarter. Technology plays such an important part of my communication with parents. How do you use technology to communicate and share information with parents? How are students involved in the conference process in your classroom?

        • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences
          tdiener

          Margaret, I really like when you say: "The children share their work and set goals with their parents for the next quarter." How good is that! Electronic communication tools have certainly provided feed-back loops I never could have imagined just a short time ago. I'd be interested to know what tools are used to share student data with parents. Here in NY, the most popular student management systems are: ESchool Data, Infinite Campus, and PowerSchool.

          • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences
            julesfischy

            Margaret- great questions - I am only teaching online so all of my communication is electronic with the exception of the occasional phone call. 

             

            Is there any push back from parents in using technology?  I gobble it up from my children's teachers - I love the websites, I love the online grades and the team newsletters that are emailed.  However I have friends that feel they are totally overwhelmed - they don't know where to begin and that they have technology coming to them from all directions. Do you hear this from parents?  If so how do you get your parents on board and what do you do to get them started if they are overwhelmed with Technology?

              • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences
                Bowerman@cox.net

                I don't her any pushback from parents, but that may be because I don't inundate them with messages. I send out a monthly email and an occasional email reminder a few days before a big event (field trip, Turkey Trot, musical). In each email, my signature includes a link for them to sign up to the school e-newsletter and a link for the Parent Portal where grades are kept.

                 

                One thing I do to help focus parents is to have the students check their grades through the Student Vue (same view as the Parent Portal) after every major project. Their grades and my feedback are in the portal and students love sharing this with their parents once they get home. I often hear from parents about how proud their child is about the grade and feedback.

              • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences
                glen_w

                Margaret,

                 

                I post all assignments online and often include a blog post about what we did with the assignment. I've heard from students that they check the site if they are absent so they can stay caught up. One comment today impressed me "I like how this class challenges my thinking process." This followed a student/student discussion about classes they are taking and the memorization involved in each.

                 

                Parents often comment via email or at back-to-school that they have heard about how they can always find out what is happening in my class from the class website. I'm honest in saying I'm not perfect at always putting items on the site and it is not as current as it should be. The assignments, however, are accessible to students and parents and that seems to be the most important factor.

                 

                I want to involve students in writing blog posts about what we are learning ... BUT ... that is currently against district policy. I'm working to get that policy changed.

                 

                In my opinion, I believe it is important to use digital technology as a method of communication with parents. I've given parents my email address, as well as IM and skype contact information. They know I may not always be available, but am willing to communicate with them in various ways.

                 

                What other communication methods do you recommend I add to what I share with parents?

                • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences

                  I have a question:

                   

                  I work in a low income school. The majority of our families don't own computers and have little access to technology. Do you have any ideas of how we can close this gap and try communicating with technology in some way??

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                    • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences

                      In my early career as a teacher, I would have the students do a weekly newsletter about our classroom and team using technology. Students would bring this home to the parents. Since all the students contributed, very few "forgot" to share this with parents.

                        • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences

                          Thanks!
                          We no longer have a computer teacher, so every other Friday, we have to take our own class to the lab. That's a great idea, I could have them work on things to write about during the week, and they can type them in there. I could then compile them into a newsletter and send them home bi-monthly. Thanks for the idea!!

                        • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences
                          julesfischy

                          Kristy - when I was with a low-income district we had an open lab night.  Parents and students were invited in to use the technology- whether it was just to explore or to learn how to use software it was a chance for them to get connected. 

                           

                          How many of them have cell phones?  You might consider sending either a text or voice message to your parents. 

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                            • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences

                              Julia,

                              What a great idea! We do occassionally have parent-related events in which they come in a do short sessions. However, I think you have a great idea with the technology night! It does seem that the majority of our parents do have cell phones, so texting has become more common at our school. Thanks again for the great ideas!!!

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                            • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences
                              glen_w

                              Kristy,

                               

                              I am also in a low-income school. We are a Title One School with 60% of our students on free or reduced lunch. My experience in working with parents is that many have Internet access at work. We also open up our school at least one night a week to allow for parent classes. The most popular class is our "English as a Second Language" class. Parents come and learn to communicate in English - making conversations more interesting at Parent/Teacher conferences. There is a computer lab open during these open nights.

                               

                              During Parent/Teacher conferences we also open up the computer labs and have people in these labs who can help parents with how to access their child's school information online.

                               

                              I'm interested in other ideas on how to help the low-income family have internet access. Please share your ideas here.

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                              • Re: Parent-Teacher Conferences
                                Bowerman@cox.net

                                I was also in a Title 1 school but we were fortunate to have a district computer lab that we opened to the community once a week. We also have a public library close to school that has internet and many of the apartment complexes have a mini lab in a common area for residents to use. We also have a phone system that can send out a message to each parent in our class (or in the school or district) of we want to use phones rather than internet.

                                 

                                I love the idea of having students contribute to the newsletters; this is a great communication tool. I used to put student interviews on the back of my newsletters so everyone could get to know their classmates. This always made it home!