Years ago, my parents coming to school for a meeting meant my younger brother had again “misbehaved” and they were conferencing with the teacher and principal. Of course, my parents never had a school conference because I had broken the rules. My mother did faithfully attend monthly PTA meetings and sometimes mentioned talking with my teacher.

As a teacher, I viewed conferences as a team building tool. I wanted to give parents helpful information. I wanted to get ideas for how to help their child.

As a parent, I wanted to make sure the teacher saw my child as an individual with strengths as well as areas of need. I wanted to know how I could help him navigate current challenges. I wanted to help the teacher understand her history. For example, why could she multiply and divide but was stuck on addition and subtraction. I wanted to understand and support the teacher’s goals.

You say, “But Grandma, that was in the dark ages. Now parents are bombarded with communications – electronic newsletters, emails, phone calls, Twitter messages. And conferences this year will be virtual because of the pandemic. Why do I need to go?”

My reply, “To let your child and teachers know they are not alone. To demonstrate with actions that you are your child’s strongest advocate! You believe in her. You will always be avidly interested in his life. You are not going to go away.”

NOTE: The school years really do fly by and before you are ready, there will be no more conferences to attend. Now is the only time you can show your love in this particular way.

SECOND NOTE: I believe I did a better job teaching when parents brought their child’s needs before me. Conferences helped me care more because I knew more.

SUGGESTION: Talk to as many teachers as you can. Learn how your daughter interacts in class. Learn what is up ahead for your son. Share his or her strengths and best learning methods. Help the teacher get to know your child more deeply. If need be, ask for a longer conference or a larger problem-solving team. But the virtual conference is a great start.

NEED TO OPT OUT? Find another time to promote conversation. But be sure to do it!

UPDATE: My brother is the most amazing man you will ever meet.

Grandma is Rebecca Kordatzky. She is a wife, mother of three and grandmother. A retired educator, she’s taught all levels and trained teachers. As an educational coach/tutor and at the Milton Area Youth Center, she aims to educate, encourage and inspire.

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