Recently we had a chance to catchup with Lisa Highfill on the topic of parent teacher conferences. Lisa is an experienced 5th grade teacher who has mastered the art and science of parent teacher conferences. Talking with her, we learned how much work goes into these brief meetings. So here is to all the teachers out there with much appreciation for all you do. Online sign up sheets have a small role to play, but it is really the dedication and effort of our teachers that comes through in this conversation.
Jooners: How do you prepare for Parent-Teacher Conferences?
Lisa: There are two parts to parent-teacher conferences. The first part is to find a mutually convenient time that works for the families and is available for the teacher and school. The second part is to actual work of pulling the information together and preparing for each individual student’s conference and conversation.
Jooners: Interesting…Is one more work than the other?
Lisa: Obviously gathering the information on the student’s work and preparing for goals/accomplishments’ discussion with the parents, is the most crucial work and much more important. But the sad truth is that more than half of the time allocated to preparing for these conferences, is spent in back and forth emails and conversations for scheduling. It is draining and completely unhelpful to the real goal of focusing on a student’s achievements and challenges.
Jooners: That is quite frustrating. I bet no one thinks about how much work just the schedule coordination is.
Lisa: That is right. Before Jooners, coordinating the conferences was a full time job! Multiple emails, papers sent home, about two hours trying to coordinate everyone’s calendar and accommodate their wishes, then more notes going back to parents, then a confirmation RSVP back to school and FINALLY….the date was set. Then we started the process of change management! Needed to accommodate schedule changes, sibling conferences, etc. It took hours.