Whether sharing data celebrations or problem solving homework difficulties, parents and teachers are the ultimate cheerleaders for all students, and conferences are an opportunity to collaborate around students’ academic and social progress. That, and research shows family engagement improves school readiness, student achievement and social skills. While conferences offer a time to sit face to face with your child’s teacher in an individual setting, you may also have a few questions – what is the STEP test anyway?! Even though I am not a Rocketship parent, I have seen some great strategies from our engaged parents in practice during conferences. Here are a few tips that can make sure that as a parent, you are making the most out of your child’s conference.
1. Questions are the key to understanding.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the moment it might be hard to slow things down to clear up any confusion. With the wide variety of assessments, proficiency levels and core values, it is crucial to walk away with a clear understanding of what needs to be done coming out of the conference. In the past, some parents have found it helpful to write down their questions and bring them to the conference, leaving space to take notes when you get an answer from the teacher. Some examples of questions include:
- What exactly does this assessment mean/measure?
- What does it mean to be on grade level in reading for my child?
- How should my child be performing in order to be on track for college?
- What are strategies I can use to support my child’s learning at home?
2. Next steps keep conferences alive.
A great parent teacher conference will always result in next steps for both the teacher and the parent. The best next steps are specific. For example, ask teachers to check in with you by text or phone call in the coming weeks to make sure your student is continuing to make progress. For you as parents, this might mean making sure your child has books at home that will help him get to the next STEP level, or manipulatives to help him build their mathematics skills. It could also mean you download the Online Learning Programs we use at school onto your child’s tablet so that he can continue growing after school, and on the weekends. Maybe it means working on behavior goals, or making a trip to a local museum to build your child’s interest in a particular subject. Whatever the next steps are, make them count!
3. Involvement benefits everyone.
Conferences are also a great time to find a way to get involved with your school! From volunteering in class, to planning an event, to translating for other parents, to going on a field trip, there are many ways to get involved in your school that can have a great impact on both your student and the community at large. Make sure to reach out to the the teacher during the conference to offer your skills and find a way to support. You may find your calling and have far larger impact than you could have ever imagined! You have so much to offer, and every little bit counts.
Be sure to take advantage of this first conference and make the most out of it! Whether it is your first conference, or your fifth, make sure to ask questions, develop next steps for both yourself and the teacher and find a way to get involved. This will ensure that both you and your child get the most out of the coming year. Happy conferencing!
Rocketship Parents: The first round of conferences will be taking place in Milwaukee and the Bay Area October 1-2. If you haven’t yet signed up for a conference, please reach out to your Rocketeer’s teacher today. Nashville Rocketeers, even though your conferences have passed, save these ideas for next time!
Parents, how have conferences helped your student? Tweet your ideas at us!
Dustin Lockwood is in his 3rd year at Rocketship Los Sueños, where he taught 1st grade Humanities and now serves as the school’s Academic Support Manager. He is passionate about education, human rights and culturally relevant pedagogy. Dustin believes that schools function best when they reflect local cultures, while incorporating global perspectives. In his spare time he likes reading cultural anthropology, learning new languages and talking politics. Nothing impresses him more than teachers who orient their students to the higher purposes of learning: to improve themselves, their family and their community.