Sunday, November 9, 2014

The scariest day of the year!

Nothing puts fear into the hearts of teachers more than the words: Parent/Teacher Conferences. This year we decided to make a few changes that add even more fear. We decided to add "sessions" to help educate parents of what is going on in our school. The point in this was to help the teachers show the parents what is happening instead of defending what is happening. The words common core seem to be ugly words around here and we wanted to change that perception. After much deliberation we decided to add these sessions: Bullying, Tier II/III, STAR/ Lexile, 5th grade math, 6th grade reading, 7th grade math, 7th grade English, 8th grade math, 8th grade English, 8th grade science, 8th grade history, and Parent/Community advisory committee. We wanted to address every oncern we had heard. Ok, maybe we went into overkill a little. We planned everything out and sent out a newsletter with the session times on it. Since this was such a new concept, our parents were a little confused. Some asked questions, some did not. The night of the conferences we were very excited to offer this new format. I mean we had this great idea - what could go wrong?!? Well, I'll tell you what went wrong.
            * parent/teacher conferences for the entire county are held on the same night
            * parents can't get to all schools on the same night for extended periods of time 
            * parents misunderstood what the sessions were and some avoided them
            * the lowest turnout of parents in years
However, we continued with the plan and held our sessions. I gave each teacher that was holding a session a sign in sheet to track the parents. As I figured, the teachers with the lowest grades had the most parents. I felt that was a good thing though. Those parents now know how that class is set up. Every teacher that held a session said they enjoyed it. They felt they were able to talk to parents without having to defend themselves. 

In the end we felt it was very successful despite the low numbers. We are now planning "A day in the life of your middle schooler". The idea is the same, but we are planning on holding it on a separate date than all other schools. We want the parents to be informed in how the classes are set up. But this time all teachers will hold sessions. We plan to give each parent their child's schedule and send them to first period. We will "teach" for about 7/10 minutes, ring a bell, and move to the next period. Our plan is to help the parents understand their child's day and maybe, just maybe, realize we are all here in that child's best interest. We want every child in our school to be successful and we want every parent in our school to be informed. We have hopefully figured out a way to make this day not the scariest day of the year but the day we united with parents to help each child become the success we know they can be.