POSITIVE CONVERSATIONS: THE POWER OF PARENT TEACHER STUDENT CONFERENCES
As Term 3 Parent Teacher Student Conferences approach, it is an appropriate time to consider the impact of this twice-yearly opportunity for families to attend the College, to sit down with their teachers, and to participate in open and honest conversation about their student’s learning and progress. We invite and encourage all Greenvale Secondary College parents and guardians to be part of this important element of the ongoing teamwork between the school and families to support student learning.
THE BRIDGE OF COMMUNICATION
Although digital platforms serve as a day-to-day communication method between yourself and the school, Parent Teacher Student Conferences act as more of a bridge between the classroom and the home. Having a conversation in the environment in which your child learns, and is confident talking with their teacher in, provides a chance to see a different side of your child; families are often surprised to hear the assuredness with which students speak about their own progress, learning data and growth. Coming into the learning environment for shared discussion can activate a conversation that is less likely to occur over the phone or in a two-way conversation.
THE POWER OF COLLABORATION
Education is a shared journey and your involvement is vital. Parent participation in and engagement with children’s learning has been shown to strongly influence student achievement, engagement, motivation and school completion (Bond, 2019). When you attend parent conferences you are not only demonstrating to your child that you are committed to their education, you are showing them that there is value in maintaining a positive relationship with the school (Cheung, 2019). Creating an opportunity for students to see this collaborative partnership in action encourages open communication from the child to home about the challenges and triumphs of schooling. When challenges arise this established rapport with teachers enables constructive dialogue and effective solutions.
A positive conversation during conferences can unlock new perspectives for all participating parties, which can help all involved build a shared understanding of the child’s learning style, interests, and aspirations. This knowledge can then be used to tailor teaching strategies and support mechanisms, and can assist teachers to better understand and set long term goals. Even though conferences can include frank discussion about difficulties and areas of need, students often leave with a sense that challenges can be overcome. When they know that their parents and teachers are aligned and have a deeper understanding of the outcomes they are striving towards, students can feel motivated to work towards their goals. The shared interest of the significant adults in their learning sends a powerful message that education matters and that their efforts are valued.
TIPS FOR A PRODUCTIVE PARENT-TEACHER INTERVIEW
1. Prepare Questions: Write down any questions or concerns you have before the meeting to ensure you make the most of your time.
2. Active Listening: Listen carefully to insights of the teacher who is in the classroom with your child regularly, and share your observations about their learning outside of school.
3.Constructive Approach: Approach the conversation with a positive and open mindset, focusing on solutions, growth and what’s next for the child.
4. Goal Setting: Aim to collaborate with the teacher to leave with some achievable goals for your child’s academic and personal development.
5. Follow-Up: After the interview, continue the dialogue at home by discussing the action plan with your child and reinforcing the importance of their role in their own education.
Cheung, C. S. (2019). Parents’ involvement and adolescents’ school adjustment: Teacher–student relationships as a mechanism of change. School Psychology, 34(4), 350–362. https://doi.org/10.1037/spq0000288
Bond, M. (2019), Flipped learning and parent engagement in secondary schools: A South Australian case study. Br J Educ Technol, 50: 1294-1319. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12765