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Week 11

Parent–teacher conferences

Parent–teacher conferences. Yikes. Just thinking of the term scared me. In college and graduate school, we learned about different learning styles and philosophies. One thing we had not really focused on was how to deal with parents. Our professors told us that was something that we would learn on the job. Whether I liked it or not, it was now time for me to learn how to handle parents and discuss student progress with them.

Being a first year teacher, I was very intimidated by the thought of meeting with parents. I worried whether or not they were going to take me seriously. I thought, "Here they are, 'veteran' parents who know their children very well, and here am I, a 23 year old teacher with no prior teaching experience, trying to talk to the parents as if I had done this a thousand times before." Before conferences, I made sure that I was totally prepared. I had a portfolio for each student, filled with examples of work that would clearly present their academic development. If a parent asked me a question about his/her child, I needed to be able to answer it. The last thing I wanted to do was look like I did not know what was going on. Even though I had been assessing my students throughout the marking period, and I knew where each one stood, I began to underestimate myself once I thought of discussing that information with the parents.

As my first conference began, I was amazed at how easy it was to talk to the parents. We were both there for the same reason: to make sure the student was learning and was happy being in school. It must have been quite apparent that the children's success was important to me, because the parents were pleased with what I had been doing in the classroom. Since I prepared portfolios, I was able to answer questions with ease. As I finished each conference, I felt more and more confident. Parents were not as scary as I had thought they would be. In fact, they were very supportive and took me very seriously. What a relief!

While I may be just a first year teacher, I am also very hard working and dedicated to what I do. As a result, my students benefit from my effort. They are learning and they enjoy being in school. Parents also see this, and appreciate what I do for the students. Whether a teacher has been teaching for one or ten years, if he/she puts in 110% like I have been doing, then there will be success. It may have taken me eighteen conferences to realize this, but I am happy that I have!

Reading 101 is a collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association.

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