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Parent-Teacher Conferences Unit 7 Seminar
Key Concepts for Parent Teacher Conferences • Provide parents with an understanding of their child’s strengths and needs • Conduct conferences professionally, carefully, and skillfully • Focus on data and results first • Honor privacy and confidentiality
Teacher Scenario • A student in one of your classes, Andre, has struggled to improve during the year and is finally starting to show progress—after a great deal of work on both of your parts. You are proud of his work but are well aware that his improvements (for many reasons) do not show up in his grade that was just sent home. To try to mitigate the negative grade, you wrote the comment “shows improvement” next to his grade because it was the only comment that came close to communicating the situation (it was that phrasing or “shows special aptitude in this field”). During parent-teacher conferences, there is a disturbance near your door, and a woman barges in saying loudly, “I don’t give a **** about a line! I have to talk to this ****** about Andre’s grade!” She comes straight at you; she is furious. What do you do?
Teacher Scenario • A small, gentle, Latino woman enters your room and meekly waits for you to call her name from the sign-up list. She does not meet your eyes when you ask her what her concerns are. You have no idea who her child is. She has not said anything. You notice that she is crying and ask what is wrong. Finally, she says her son Hector, in your class, has failed all the classes she has visited so far during the conferences. He is failing your class, too, though you have not told her that yet. While he attends, he does not participate; in fact, he is hostile in his silence, sneers when other students do well, and has yet to attend a class with pencil, pen, or paper. What do you say to this mother who is clearly distressed and mindful of the success of her son, even if he is not?
Teacher Scenario • A mother and her daughter have waited patiently to speak to you. They are all smiles, which you think is odd, because the girl is failing your class, and she is a habitual excuse maker and you suspect an outright liar. Their turn comes and they come together and sit at your desk. The girl will not meet your eyes. The mother begins reciting a laundry list of all the things you have done wrong during the year (you have required that final portfolios be typed, you have assigned due dates for assignments, you have required reading in an English Language Arts classroom, etc.). Because of your unfair practices, she is demanding that you change her daughter’s grade from the “F” she deserves to a “B.” You are flabbergasted. You have sent letters home; you have had no other complaints about the workload. Rather, you have in front of you a student who can rarely be bothered to attend your class but has devoted herself to getting an “A” in “Boyfriend.” What do you say to the mother while the girl is sitting there unable to meet your gaze?