Over the last 2 months I have had a number of meetings with parents for a number of different reasons but I ‘officially’ started parent teacher conferences last week (report cards went home on Tuesday). I like to have my students at our conference as it is really all about them and they should be there to have a voice at the table.
I like to ask my students a number of questions about our classroom.
- What is working well for them?
- What do they think of the way our classroom is running?
- Is there anything they would like to change?
- What do they think of my style of teaching?
- How do they know that they are learning?
- How do they feel about not getting marks on their papers?
- What can we do to make our classroom even better?
I ask students to share their honest opinion with me. I hope that having their parents there as a ‘safety’ net they will be truly honest with me. I have always had one or two suggestions of some things that we try.
The last couple of years I have invited my students to share their feelings about inquiry in our classroom. It is amazing to see their faces light up as they talk about finding out about things that they are interested in. How is that different from me standing in front of the room teaching? Their reply: everyone doesn’t have to learn the same thing. I get to choose something that interests me and someone else can do the same. One student talked about her language inquiry and that she wanted to find out more about how the laws associated with fast foods in Canada have changed over the last 10 years. Another student talked about his history and that he was interested in finding out more about the Chinese Expulsion Act.
I didn’t have to try to convince the parents why inquiry was working in our room; their children were the ones doing it. One student told her mom that she will remember some of this stuff next month because she wanted to learn it and her interest kept her engaged.
Well 12 interviews down, 14 more to go and I still have 9 other parents that I will touch base either by telephone or at a later date. Yes they are long and tiring but it’s nice to get to talk face to face with my parents. For some, this might be the only time I get them in the school until graduation.
How do your interviews work?