Photo at right: Nampa High math teacher passes out worksheets in her integrated math class.
Parent-teacher conferences have long been an opportunity for parents to assess their child’s progress and discuss any school-related concerns. Despite all the schedule disruptions caused by COVID-19, this traditional event is continuing this fall, but with a whole new online look and feel.
Middle and high school conferences took place virtually Oct. 20-22, 2020, and elementary parents will get their opportunity Nov. 11-13.
Mikayla Walker, who teaches 11th and 12th-grade English at Skyview High School, said this year’s conferences were unique but definitely beneficial. She scheduled parents through Signup Genius, and used Microsoft Teams and phone calls for the actual conferences. During breaks she was able to cold call families of struggling students.
“At the high school level, we typically don’t see a lot of families on conference nights, especially at the junior and senior levels,” she said, noting that the majority of her student’s parents scheduled a conference. “This year, the families I spoke with were thankful for the opportunity to ask questions and to have someone to just listen to them and their concerns.”
Both Walker and Olivia Rogers, a math teacher at Nampa High, said they got to talk to a higher percentage of parents than in a typical year. “Since they didn’t have to come to school, it was easier to work around schedules,” Rogers said.
While some parents prefer to meet with the teacher alone, Rogers believes conferences are more effective when the student also participates. “They are able to speak more about how things are going in their specific classes,” she said. In fact, in middle school, most students create a portfolio of their work. They then present this to their parents and teacher during the conference, literally shaping the direction of the conversation.
Conferences also can be a good time to discuss questions and concerns about schedules, assignments, or software such as PowerSchool or Otus.
“Parents and students have access to a lot more features in Otus than teachers do when it comes to seeing students’ grades, so I found it really helpful to have the parent or student open up Otus on their end and share their screen,” Rogers said.
For upcoming elementary conferences, parents will receive students’ report cards ahead of time so they can be prepared to discuss any concerns with the teacher.
If you are unable to meet during the scheduled conference time, please contact your child’s teacher via email to arrange a meeting at another time.