Teacher conferences are required for elementary school. Report cards are given to elementary parents at their conferences. This policy assures attendance. I have never attended a conference for middle or high school despite having students at all three levels for the second year in a row. In fact, I had no idea there were conferences for middle or high school. (There's been a question in my mind as to why the whole district took a day off when only the elementary schools held conferences for years.) It turns out that there are conferences available on all campuses.
This year, the middle school principal sent out e-mail blasts encouraging parents to attend student-led conferences. A couple of the high school instructors sent out e-mail inviting parents to schedule conferences as well. Eh? This being the first notice ever in our household that the middle and high schools were even open on this day to parents and students, it seemed like a good idea to at least check it out however painful the idea sounded to parent and student alike.
Wow. The ten minute required conference with Erin's teacher (the one with the great British accent?) stretched well past time to cover 40 minutes, and I was truly sorry to part company with her. (Yes, for those who know of my unfortunate tendency to unintentionally mirror speech and mannerisms, I did lapse into a reflection of Mrs. H's accent. Oops.) We have some strategies for encouraging Erin in the classroom, awareness of her strengths, and plans for building up areas of weakness. We have also been granted the opportunity to share Erin's upcoming trip to Honduras with her classmates. Erin will be crafting a slide show and developing her writing with prompts related to the trip since 4th grade is a big year for writing skills.
Evan and I drove together to the high school. His Latin teacher filled in the blanks on some extracurricular activities, the English instructor suggested that he begin "visiting" in a Pre-AP class in preparation for a transfer from his current less-stringent class at semester, and the AP history teacher shared his thoughts on AP classes vs Evan's capability to enroll at the local community college and earn concurrent high school and college credit next year. It was exciting to hear that Evan is seen as a bright kid with a strong work ethic by those who spend five days a week with him outside of our aegis.
Katie and I showed up at the middle school without a plan. We arrived to discover that the building was closed for a lunch hour. That lunch hour was published in the newsletter alerting this clueless parent to the optional parent/teacher conferences for middle and high school students. (Oops.) So. Katie and I will head back over to the school for a second attempt momentarily. The positive experiences with her siblings conferences have definitely kindled a desire to hear what the middle school teachers will have to say about our Middle Child. Plus, I am intrigued with the principal's suggested student-led conferences. Hearing from the kids themselves at those upper grade levels is a far cry from the usual "How was your day?" that is met with the chronic "fine," or the obligatory parental "What did you do today?" that rates a "nothing" response. That is absolutely worth a second trip to the middle school.