Categories
Loading
Welcome to Babble,
Settings
Sign Out

Get the Babble Newsletter!

Already have an account? .

Are Parent-Teacher Conferences Outdated?

Are preschool conferences outdated?Once again we find ourselves sitting in front of an array of artwork and photos, with a five-page “Child Development Profile” in our hands. Even though he’s only in preschool, it’s been the same scene twice a year for the last three years.

Parent-teacher conferences.

They offer us bagels and fruit — cookies for an evening meeting — and we chat for 15, 20 minutes about our boy. How he’s adjusting socially, any areas he’s lacking, any anecdotes that they’d like to share.

Maybe we’re luckier than most — his preschool pours a lot into those child development profiles, and they take plenty of snapshots to send us home with (Print photos! How vintage!). And throughout the years, the parent-teacher conferences have been a way to talk about real issues with real child-development experts who also fully know our child. What approach should we take with potty training? How severe is his speech delay? What kind of discipline is most effective for a 4-year-old — and more specifically, for my 4-year-old who you spend 4 to 5 hours a day with?

It’s been a way to gain insight into our child from a different angle, and it takes a village right?

But a recent series of Op-Eds in The New York Times — “Rethinking Parent-Teacher Conferences” — got me thinking about our preschool meeting and parent-teacher conferences in general.

Are they necessary?

In Amy Wilson’s piece, “In Pre-K, No News Is Good News,” she makes the argument that parent-teacher meetings — especially in preschool — should be more on a need-to-meet basis.

“I’m not saying preschool conferences are counterproductive; any parent who has that 20 minutes to spare is happy to hear how adorable her child is, or to peruse a selection of that child’s scribblings. Nor am I suggesting discussing preschoolers’ progress with their teachers can never be useful. At our middle child’s pre-kindergarten conference, his teacher surprised us both with stories of our son’s frustration and unhappiness in the classroom. That honest talk led to our holding him back, a decision we feel great about today. But even in that case, I was left frustrated that we had to wait until an arbitrary date nine weeks into the school year to hear that our child was having such difficulty.”

I can understand that point, can’t you? In an age of email and text messaging — where communication can be as instant as we need it to be — why are we waiting until a set date to discuss something that can be mentioned right away? And what happens when he gets older, and we have to share our time with 25+ parents instead of a manageable 10? And then meet with X amount of high school teachers in 5-minute blocks? Are parent-teacher conferences even beneficial at that point?

I can’t even begin to understand the ways the education system will change in the next 10 to 15 years. Maybe the traditional parent-teacher conference will update to a modern, virtual meeting. But isn’t there always a benefit to face-to-face communication? To sit across from the person(s) teaching and chatting with our child for the bulk of the day — to read their facial cues and body language? To sit in the environment that your child sits each day?

Jose Vilson, a math teacher in the New York City public schools, makes a good point in his piece, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”:

“We shouldn’t look at these meetings as a way to reform our children. They simply provide the face-to-face element of a longer conversation, which starts with a letter to every child’s home, works its way through progress reports and the occasional phone call with parents, and ends with a report card.”

How much can we possibly modernize the process without losing the benefits of our most basic communication?

Do you find parent-teacher conferences to be outdated and useless? 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrPinterest
Tagged as: , , , , ,

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Learn More.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrPinterest