News Releases

Monday, February 20, 2012

Parent/Teacher Conference

By contributing writer and teacher Ree Shapiro

Conferencing with your child’s teacher can be a nerve racking experience.   I am nervous when I go to my children’s conference, and I know what to expect! 
Most teachers want the conference to go as smoothly as possible. Teachers really do not like to give bad news. Many of the academic policies discussed are beyond a teacher’s control.  Teachers follow either State or County guidelines when assigning grades.  Student expectations are extremely strict and must be adhered.
One of the most difficult conferences to have is when a child qualifies as a potential retainee.  Teachers know how scary that is for parents to hear.  This is especially difficult in kindergarten.  Who wants to hear that there child may fail kindergarten?!
Usually though, if this was a possibility, for a child in any grade, your child‘s teacher would have been preparing you for this earlier in the school year.  At your fall conference, the teacher may have expressed concern about your child’s lack of progress or slow progress.  The teacher may have given you skills to work on with your child, or discussed how your child would be given extra help at school.  If your child’s initial assessment scores were low, your child may have been put on a progress monitoring plan.
Even with all this help, expectations are high and your child may still have difficulty meeting them. 
Teachers must decide by late February whether a child has a possibility of being retained and then that child must be made a potential retainee.  There are guidelines to help us with this decision but it can also be a judgment call. 
If your child is identified as a potential retainee, the teacher will have you sign a paper stating this fact.  The teacher should also explain that even though you sign the paper this does not mean your child will be retained.  The term potential is a little misleading.  It means that there is a possibility that your child can be retained, not that they definitely will be.  
Many times a student will blossom in the spring and will all of sudden catch on.  I have had this happen before.  It is always wonderful when that happens.
Try not to enter your child’s conference on the defensive, but do ask lots of questions!  Especially questions on how to help your child’s progress.  Most (I would almost say all) teachers want your child to do well.  Honestly, teachers feel  so wonderful when a struggling student “gets it.”
Go into your child’s conference with the attitude that you and the teacher are a team.  Strategizing together is the best way to help your child succeed.

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