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Preparing for a parent-teacher conference

October 19, 2000

Preparing for a parent-teacher conference



By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

Tips for Parents

* Come to the conference with a set of questions.

* Is my child prepared for class?

* Does he participate?

* Have you noticed any physical changes, such as tiredness, moodiness, squinting?

* How is progress measured? Are tests, projects and class participation part of it?

* Let the teacher know your feelings about what the child is doing.

* Agree on a plan for your child to do better in school. There always are ways to enhance and enrich the academic experience.

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* Be considerate. The conference is not the time for a lengthy discussion with the teacher. The teacher has appointments with parents before and after you.

* Relay the information to the child. It's really important for your child to know what the teacher said.

- Sources: Jenny Belliotti, president of the Washington County Council of Parent Teacher Associations; John Festerman, director elementary education for Washington County Public Schools; Our Children, magazine of the National PTA




"It's a partnership," said Jenny Belliotti, president of the Washington County Council of Parent Teacher Associations.

Kendra Trail, a fifth-grade teacher at Hancock Elementary School, used the same word to describe the relationship between a teacher and parent in the business of educating a child.

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Communication is important in any relationship. The parent-teacher conference is one way for those partners - the teacher and the parent - to communicate.

"There's nothing like face-to-face communication with the teacher," said John Festerman, director of elementary education for Washington County Public Schools. Teachers and parents can tell each other things the students might never mention, he added.

"I just think it's so important for the parents to be aware of the learning that's going on in the classroom," Trail said.

In Washington County schools, parent-teacher conferences will be Monday, Nov. 6, and Wednesday, Nov. 8. Parent participation is very high, especially in the lower elementary grades - at least 90 percent, Festerman said.

Parents don't have to wait until November to talk with their child's teacher, Festerman said. They can contact the school any time to arrange a conference.

Conferences are not as structured in the higher grades, said Boyd Michael, director of secondary education for Washington County Public Schools. But parents are encouraged to come in, he said. Meetings with individual teachers or the student's team of teachers can be arranged.

"Parent and family involvement increases student achievement and success," according to research-backed information on the Web site of the National Parent Teacher Association at www.pta.org.

Belliotti believes the parent-teacher conference is extremely important. It's a way for parents to get a message to the teacher - and to their child: "Yes, this is important. This is a priority."

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