Sunday, November 23, 2014
   
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Face to face contact

Parent-teacher conferences help students succeed.

Some kids cringe when their parents walk out the door for parent-teacher conferences.

Others are anxious to hear the good things teachers might say about them.

Parents may also harbor anxiety as they sit down with a teacher to find out whether their child’s progress is good or bad, or somewhere in the middle.

With conferences scheduled next week, one Dudley Elementary teacher said parents and teachers have the same goals so working together toward them is important.

“A student’s educational goals are a top priority,” said first-grade teacher Michelle Stienike. “As a public school, we’re here to meet each child’s learning goals to the best of our ability.”

Stienike pointed out that a school-to-home connection is vital to make education as successful as possible.

“It allows parents to take time to discuss any concerns they might have and gives the teacher time to discuss concerns or to praise students that are meeting educational and social standards,” she said.

Stienike added that she keeps parents abreast of student progress throughout the year with weekly newsletters and behavior reports.

“Then at conference time, there are no surprises,” she said.

Unlike many other schools, Dudley Elementary has an average participation rate of 95% and above, which K-2 elementary principal Teresa Messersmith said shows parents are willing to share their thoughts at conferences.

“We work very hard to communicate with parents on a regular basis to encourage their input in their child’s education,” she said.

Stienike said both teachers and parents need to bring something to the table.

Messersmith and upper elementary principal Jim Widdifield suggest that parents bring questions, concerns or ideas to help their child be successful.

Teachers should be prepared to share student strengths and data to support decisions for the child, they said.

“Both should be an active listener and participant,” Widdifield said.

In addition to discussing students and their progress, the conferences—at the elementary level—are also a chance to see work on display such as PowerPoint presentations, artwork and more.

All teachers, not just classroom teachers, attend conferences.

Several years ago, administrators moved up the twice-yearly conferences to mid September and mid February—rather than mid semester— to help students who might be in danger of failing a class.

“That way we can communicate to get their grade up,” said high school principal Randy Evans. “Parents can inform teachers what works best or what parents can do at home to help.”

Although parents can check in to see how students are doing grade and attendance wise through Powerschool, on the school’s website, Evans said it’s also important to converse face to face.

“We have great kids here so it’s important to inform parents how good they are,” he said. “If there’s something they need to improve on, it’s a chance to let parents know.

“Dialogue is important because there are no distractions. It’s one on one.”

Evans added that the high school participation rate ranges from 65% to 75%.

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