I have had parents who brought their kids, and it does change the dynamic of the meeting. I have found it's usually the parents of underachieving students who bring them, and I feel as if somehow they wanted their kids to experience some kind of scolding or punishment rather than garnering something useful from the experience. So what do you think? Other than the fact that these conferences we traditionally have once each semester are called parent/teacher conferences, not parent/teacher/student conferences, is there any value in having students be part of the discussion?
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My district has completely done away with scheduled parent-teacher conferences at the secondary level, and most of the conferencing we do is with the students present--and at either the parent's or teacher's request. I generally find this to be beneficial, but if there's something that needs to be discussed without the student present, I try to arrange that through the guidance office, as it can be a delicate process. Either way, I think the most important thing is for teachers and parents to communicate about the kids, and most of the time, I think the kids need to be involved. But I do think I'd be thrown off if I had prepared for a parent-teacher conference (without the student) and the student showed up.
I think it is vital that students take ownership of their learning. This means to me that a parent meeting should be a three way conference with the student very much part of the discussion. If we are reviewing progress, identifynig strengths and weaknesses and setting goals for the future then the student needs to be accountable and responsible for their own future.
As a high school teacher I have always requested student attendance, and have had incidents where only the student showed up. Inteerstingly my son's primary school also uses a three way conference and I find this very useful in setting achievable goals for him together.
I've always appreciated the times students have attended parent-teacher conferences and have seen my role in such opportunities as more of a facilitator of conversation between parent and child. By guiding parents and students through the classroom work and data there before us, it has always been amazing to observe the insight gained by all.
And in those instances where there has been some need for a more private conversation between myself and the parent(s), I've found that to be much easier to do via phone following such a conference.
Interesting insights, everyone. Thanks.
Your experience is intriguing to me, #9. I taught for 28 years, and I've had plenty of administration/parent/teacher/student conferences, and most were productive and inspired some kind of positive change in student--and often parent--behavior. I taught in both Christian school and public school, and, admittedly, these kinds of meetings were more effective in the private schools that in public. But it was generally encouraging for the students because, while we addressed the issues we all knew were problem areas, we were also able to affirm the positives and potential from each teacher's perspective.
I'm not recommending this for every circumstance, for sure, but I have seen it work. New homework patterns, attitude changes, and some specific help (even something simple such as checking in with each teacher at the end of the day) generally made a difference in the student's educational progress.
I have ALWAYS wished students would come to parent teacher conferences... I personally think it would be nothing but a positive experience.
The only downside is the difficulty of being completely honest if the student is a problem... but again, I'm in favor of confrontation and pragmatism.
As a teacher, I generally frown on having the students attend our regular Parent/Teacher Meetings simply because I want the meeting to be an objective review of the student's progress and I want the one-on-one with his/her parent (which I can't get if they're present). It's not a fault-finding session and I gain as much insightful information regarding the student as the parent does! Any problems I have with the student that he/she needs to know about I've already spoken to them about it.
I've only had one instance in my five years of teaching where we had a Parent/Teacher/Student/Principal meeting. No benefit was derived from having the student present. She was so humiliated, she started crying and basically shut down emotionally. If I had it to do over again, I would have sat down with just her parents and the Principal and talked over the situation without her being there! I finally got through to her more by my being understanding, compassionate, and kind than by my publicly reprimanding and embarassing her in front of her parents and the principal of the school.
Nothing in education should be kept secret from students, and I think transparency in the learning process is key: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Students must be given the opportunity to take a part in all aspects of their education, including a meeting in which positives, and perhaps challenges, are discussed. I was in an IEP last semester in which the students did not attend on purpose. He was at school, but would not attend. It was obvious to all in attendance. He was embarrassed of his lack of attendance, his misbehavior, and apathetic attitude. In my opinion, the meeting should not have taken place without him.
I do think it brings a new dynamic to meetings that can be helpful. I am all for treating my students like adults and making them responsible for their learning (or lack of it) and so including them in these meetings helps promote this. On the other hand, I only work with higher grade students, and so I don't know if it would work for lower grades as well.
I am a proponent of bringing students to the parent/ teacher conferences. I think it is extremely important for students to justify and explain what is happening in their learning. I try to approach these conferences as exploring why things are working and brainstorming things that need improvement. I think that there is a way to keep things focused and driven on the academic angle. I agree that there are moments when it can devolve into a slugfest of scolding and accusations, but I try to direct things so that the meeting is a proactive one. I tell students that it's in their interest to be present because if not, "I can say whatever I want and there's no rebuttal." I usually say this with a wink and a smile so that kids know that it's in their interest to attend.
My district has renamed it Parent-Student-Teacher Planning Time (PSTPT). Students are asked to accompany their parents. The idea is that the students should be involved in their own education and part of the planning that goes into improving it.
There are several benefits to this style of conference. If there are discrepancies between the teacher's & student's accounts of a situation, they can be straightened out immediately. If students are involved with formulating a plan of action regarding their education, they can be held accountable for their part. Also, it gives the students a chance to voice their own concerns about what is occurring in the classroom with the security of knowing they have adult "back-up".
I try to have some of both. For an IEP, for instance, we are required to invite the student once they are 16, but I try to get a chance to talk to the parents alone, first. I know this is slightly different from a conference; there are usually some things I need to say to the parents alone. But I want the student there for most of it; after all, we are talking about their progess. And the parents do tend to get an interesting version of how things go in school from students!
I think that it really depends on why the parent has brought their student to the conferences. I have found that sometimes parents bring their children who have done poorly on their report card and they feel that bringing their child will teach them a lesson. This really is not the purpose of the conferences-conferences are not meant to discipline the child but discuss academic progress. If academic progress and improvement are what id discussed during the conference then I do not see a problem with the student being present.
I tend to get the full range of parents for conferences, those who are there for constructive support, to talk to the teachers, to appear to be parenting in the midst of their busy days, to take the teacher to task, to confront their kids, you name it. Anytime you work with the public you're going to get a mixed bag.
I do think it's valuable to have both student and parent there, because so often the message you give one or the other about what's happening in class is lost in translation to the other one. With only a parent present, you sometimes have a parent who challenges your advice or assertions because their kid told them something different.
I do think these conferences have limited utility. The ones whose kids really need your help tend not to show, while those getting straight A's are regulars.
If the parent brings their kid to the conference it would most likely change the conversation like you listed. Since why would you want the kid look embarrassed in front of their parents. I would have to say no. Student should not be able to attend parent or teacher conferences due to the fact that they would probably hear harsh comments [sometimes]. A parent or teacher conference is suppose to be private, informing the student's parents what he/she is missing out without hurting his or her feelings. On the other hand, if the student do go to the conference, it could help them in the future because they would know what they are doing wrong. There are a lot of parents who would hide the bad remarks to make their kid/children feel good. At my current school and middle school we don't have parent conferences unless their in big trouble. In my elementary school there was a lot of parent conferences, and they usually say do not bring your kid with you. Well, of course students still go and wait outside pretending they are not listening to what is going on inside. In fact once my parent even told me to sit with them through the conferences, and it was embarrassing listening to the bad remarks, but on the bright side at least the good remarks made up for it. It changes the dynamic of the meeting since you wouldn't go in full detail of what their kid have done. Or you'll see the child very embarrassed to the point of disaster. So my answer is, no don't allow any students attending parent or teacher conferences.
Students should not be able to attend parent or teacher conferences because it would probably embarrass the student in front of their parents. Also, it would change the dynamic of the meeting due to the fact that you wouldn't want to make your student feel bad in front of their parents.
I hope this answers your question!
My high school holds parent teacher conferences twice a year. A few parents bring their children with them. I consider these the most beneficial conferences. If I only speak with the parents during the conference, the message the parents carry home may not be the same concept. The parents are going to communicate the results through their interpretation of what we discussed. Most parents who bring their children want everyone present to hear the same message. This minimizes any misunderstandings. I like to broaden this idea to calling home as well. It is a far better conversation when I speak with both the parents and child on the phone.
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