This New York Times article discusses the increase in schools that are including students in the traditional parent-teacher conference, sometimes encouraging the students themselves to lead the discussions. Proponents of this conference method say that having students there encourages them to take responsibility for their education and behavior in school, makes parents more comfortable, and increases participation in the conferences.
Some schools are even encouraging other family members—aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.—to attend the conferences.
This model isn’t appropriate for all situations, says one principal (such as a discussion about a special education diagnosis), but for most cases, including the student in discussions about his or her education, it would foster a more effective dialogue.
This method fits right in with the idea that one child’s education is the effort of many people—teachers, students, parents, and other family and community members. It seems much more productive, to me, for a student to be present for the discussion, rather than anxiously awaiting a condensed and possibly inaccurate report of the teacher’s remarks after his or her parents have returned. Ultimately, it’s the students who will have to make the changes to succeed academically, so it only makes sense that they would be able to participate in conferences designed to do just that.
Still, there must be benefits to confidential conversations between parents and teachers, even when those discussions center primarily around academic matters. Right?
What has been your experience?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.