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Parent Conferences: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time

Preparing for a teacher-parent conference
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Whether it be 10 or 15 minutes, whatever you child’s school allocates to parent teacher conferences it is simply never enough. So how you can make sure you are getting the most of your conference when you meet with your child’s teacher this year? Parent Conferences are a great opportunity to explore all aspects of your child’s learning – their progress, areas of growth and aspects to celebrate. Meeting your child’s teacher allows you to build a connection and partnership with them, which only benefits your child on their learning journey.

Get organised for your parent conference

Make sure you are keeping an eye out for the communication from your child’s school about upcoming Parent Conferences. Booking a Parent Conference for your child can quite often be like booking tickets to the most popular concert in town; a real click frenzy. Once you have made your booking, get organised by finding an opportunity to have a chat with your child what they think might come up in the interview, what information they would like you to ask during the conference. Take a pen/paper or a device to take notes on. You will be given a large amount of information about your child in a short space of time, especially in a high school context where it is typically set up where you will be meeting with multiple teachers as you move like pac-man around the hall that is set up with lines of teachers at tables. 

Benchmarks and standards

By the time it is your conference, you may or may not have received some type of reporting or feedback from your child’s teacher which provides information on what standard your child has recently performed at. This could be using language such as ‘at standard’ or using an A-E scale of grading or some other form of grading used at your child’s school. This is a benchmark of your child’s performance at that point in time and it is important to find out how that benchmark was determined for your child.

Some key questions you could ask:

  • What were my child’s key strengths to achieve to this standard?
  • What were my child’s key challenges to achieve to this standard?
  • What strategies do you find work best when teaching my child?

Attitude and approach

Grace Lutheran students studying

How your child approaches their learning journey is what every parent wants to hear. Does your child make the most of every learning opportunity that they are exposed to throughout the day? Sometimes in schools this is referred to as your child’s effort or engagement, but what it means is what is your child’s attitude and approach to learning. As a parent you might sometimes wish you were the fly on the wall to see how your child approaches the learning in the classroom. 

Some key questions to ask:

  • How does my child contribute in the class setting? (Behaviour, Involvement during class tasks etc)
  • How does my child work with other students in the class?
  • What are your classroom expectations of my child?

Growth, improvement and wellbeing

Your child will be working towards their own personalised learning pathway. The day your child arrived at school in Prep, they started on their own individual personalised starting point and the day they graduate in Year 12 they will have their own individual personalised schooling end point. Your child is unique to all their peers and will walk their own learning journey. As parents you want to guide and support your child that it is the appropriate learning journey for them.

Some key questions you could ask:

  • How has my child’s learning improved so far throughout the year?
  • What will success look like for my child this year?
  • How do you notice when my child is happy in your class?

Ongoing partnership

The parent conference is a point in time snapshot of the learning journey of your child. It is important from both the teacher and parent perspective that a respectful ongoing partnership is established for the year. It takes a village – a team wanting the best of your child, working together in partnership with your child’s teachers sends a powerful and effective message to your child and consequently achieving best outcomes for them.

Some key questions you could ask:

  • What can I be doing at home to support my child with their learning?
  • What are your expectations of the learning that my child is doing at home?
  • What is the best form of communication for us to stay in contact throughout the year?

Parent Conferences are such a valuable event on the school calendar for both you as the parent but also for teachers, they model to your child that the teacher/parent team are there to support them through their learning, encourage their growth and progress and celebrate their achievements.

This editorial appeared in our print issue 44, February/March 2021, and was contributed by Kate McKenzie | Deputy Head of Teaching and Learning – Grace Lutheran College, Rothwell Campus www.glc.qld.edu.au

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