My First Parent Conference

Fairfax High held a giant parent conference this morning. Classes started two hours late, and hundreds of parents reported early to the Field House where teachers sat shoulder to shoulder at cafeteria tables.

My parents live out of state, of course, so I represented myself at the conference. I lined up with the other legal guardians to sit down with Tricia Colclaser and go over my homework scores, my quiz scores, my test scores, my attendance.

Parent conferences are often left behind in elementary schools, when teachers have a couple dozen students not, oh...140, to keep track of. By high school, teachers usually email or call if they want to get in touch.

But Fairfax principal Scott Brabrand wanted to bring back the parent conference. "In this age of technology," he said, "there is something qualitatively different about a face-to-face interaction with a teacher."

He was happy with the turnout, estimating that 400 or more came to see the teachers.

For Colclaser, that meant 26 interviews with parents. Most were parents she has talked with before. In some cases, it was a chance for parents to do their homework; to find out if, all those times their children said they were doing their homework or staying after school for help, they actually were.

There are lots of parents who don't come or can't come, and the handful of teachers at the English for Speakers of Other Languages table, were virtually empty. But the principal said he's trying to keep the door open.

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  November 11, 2008; 11:01 AM ET
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The parents of kids who are learning English are struggling with it themselves and usually not getting as much education learning the language. My kids went to a Charter School that held an event at the end of the term for all the kids to show what they had been working on and present work, whether produced individually or as part of a team. The parents - there were several - had a much easier time coming to these special evenings because there wasn't the pressure to display their own language skills. The teachers made a point to meet and talk to the parents about their kids but much more informally. It was a socializing event as well with music and food.
My daughter's friend's parents emigrated from the Soviet Union. The mother worked in a pharmacy where the only language spoken was Russian. There are similar stores nearby where only Cambodian and only Spanish are spoken, I'm sure. It was painful for me to struggle through a conversation with them; I can imagine what it would be like for them to meet the teacher and try to get something out of all she presented to them in English.

Posted by: KathyWi | November 12, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

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