Discussing success

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Parents, teachers can work together for students

It’s report card season, which means it’s also time for parent-teacher conferences at Suffolk’s public schools.

Teachers at the city’s elementary, middle and high schools will meet with parents on Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to discuss student progress.

Schools are gearing up for the day full of meetings, each of which usually lasts about 15 minutes.


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Northern Shores Elementary School principal Tara Moore said it is important for parents to attend the conferences because it shows their students they support their success.

“It takes all three — the parents, the school and the student — for success for students both academically and socially,” she said. “When children can see both the teacher and parents are on board, if they weren’t on board before, they will be more willing to do so and be successful.”

Moore said it’s more common for parents to be involved when their students are in elementary school, but she urges them to stay involved throughout middle and high school, even if they are doing well.

“Continue to be involved, whether your child is in kindergarten or 12th grade,” she said.

Forest Glen Middle School principal Melvin Bradshaw said even though the students are older in middle school, they still need their parents’ support.

“It’s important for all grade levels, but especially sixth graders, because this is their first year in middle school,” he said. “I think they’ll appreciate that you are concerned and involved.”

Bradshaw said the conferences are a way for parents to build good relationships with their children’s teachers and to learn about what they are doing in school.

“I think it helps you learn as a parent more about the class and what they are studying,” he said. “Even if your child is doing well, you still need to know what’s going on in their classroom.”

Both principals stressed that parent-teacher conferences aren’t designed to be negative.

In fact, Moore said, the conferences should be a chance for parents and teachers to celebrate students’ achievements.

“Parents need to come and celebrate,” she said. “They need to look at it as a positive experience.”

Suffolk Public Schools offers these tips for parents to have a successful conference:

  • Be on time for the conference. Teachers have a tight schedule that day, so be considerate of their time.
  • Be prepared to ask questions. Write down your concerns before the conference, so you don’t forget about topics you want to address. Ask specific questions, like “Is my child participating in class” and “What is his favorite subject?”
  • Talk to your child before the conference. Find out if he or she has any problems or concerns.
  • Make the conference a give-and-take conversation with the teacher. The conference is a chance to share information about your child, your home life, his or her strengths and weaknesses and any special needs and also find out information about how your child is doing in school and things your student needs help with.
  • Take notes. This allows you to remember your conversation with the teacher while showing him or her you are serious about the meeting.
  • Be positive. You both have the same goal to help your child succeed. Do not be defensive if the teacher brings up a problem. You can work together to solve any issues.
  • Work together to make an action plan. A plan will help you and the teacher monitor progress throughout the year.
  • Discuss the social aspect of school. Talk to the teacher about how your student is getting along with other students.