photo by Jessica Nassau
Parent-teacher conferences allow teachers to update parents on how their child is doing in class in an intimate setting where the teacher can be completely honest and reflect on the student’s work and behavior over the course of the year. However, to gain the most out of these conferences, student-teacher conferences need to happen first.
Because the feedback given from the teachers must travel through the parents, there is no certainty in the way in which the message will be delivered to students, creating many opportunities for miscommunication, as well as unnecessary conflict.
Feedback given to parents is directed for the parents. If the teachers were talking directly to the students, their tone and the way the information is communicated would be different. When the teacher’s feedback is communicated through the parents, the feedback could be sugarcoated by the parents, not giving the student the information they need to improve. Just as likely, parents could deliver the feedback in an overwhelmingly aggressive way that’s not conducive to improvement in the classroom.
Mandatory student-teacher conferences before parent-teacher conferences would allow teachers to directly address students about any issues and come up with solutions before parents need to get involved. By being proactive and getting the teacher and student on the same page before parent-teacher conferences, there will be less miscommunication and conflict between students and their parents, as well as the possibility for the creation of real solutions for future improvements.
Students also need the opportunity to receive constructive criticism. Responding to constructive criticism is an important life skill for students to have and practice at an early age. In addition, because the feedback came from teachers directly, and not from parents, teachers can hold their students to a higher standard for the future.
While student-teacher conferences do happen in late winter, they are not completed by all teachers and are the most beneficial when done before parent-teacher conferences in order to strengthen communication as a whole.