Parent-teacher conferences can be a challenging time for all involved.
The parents may or may not feel comfortable in the classroom due to a bad experience as a child or lack of communication from previous teachers.
The student is worried about getting a bad report.
The teacher is concerned about confrontation.
But, if all parties involved are well-informed and are made to feel a part of the child's education; hopefully, these problems will be minimalized.
1. It is imperative that communication be open and consistent. Parents should feel welcome coming to class or coming to the teacher to talk about anything. This communication should involve as many outlets as possible, including notes home, phone calls, emails and blogs (for example)
2. The teacher must instill trust and not necesarily expect it in return. We should be calling home on a regular basis with good news. In fact, we should be primarily the bearers of good news and good tidings. Concerns should be minimized and set in a larger context of positive news. This is not to neglect areas of concern, only to frame them with the possibility of overcoming.
3. Lastly, no suprises. Biweekly reports, something I have been doing for many years, should be the norm. Letting parents and kids know earlier rather than later will help all accept advice and move forward.
So, I write all this because this year I have allowed other professional concerns over-run these golden rules for parent-school communication. I have neglected the biweekly reports in favor of a class blog and in-class discussions of tests and homeworks. This has worked from some, but it has caused distress for others.
At this juncture I set as a goal improving communication via:
1. Reinstituting the biweekly reports.
2. At least one call home per student.
3. Soliciting parent responses and questions via a questionaire.
I hope this helps ameliorate some of the concerns parents have about their child's progress and sucesses in math class.