Parent-teacher conferences can benefit everyone involved

Peter Phelan, Contributing Writer

Parent-teacher conferences took place at Monroe-Woodbury High School on March 19, 21, and 28.

Conferences provide a chance for parents to interact with teachers and for teachers to discuss academic or behavioral issues with parents.

At the high school, parents met with each of their children’s teachers for six-minute intervals. The conferences allowed parents to discuss their children’s performance and the topics taught in their classes.

“Parents of high schoolers should not discount the value of parent-teacher conferences,” said Alexandra Pannoni, staff writer for U.S. News. “These meetings may ultimately influence a teen’s academic success.”

A teacher of mathematics for 21 years, Ms. Bogart-Schmidt said that for teachers, conferences allow parents to get to know teachers, help to build trust, make it easier to discuss any academic or behavioral issues.

According to Ms. Bogart-Schmidt, the greatest benefit for students is that it helps them to be accountable for their grades, and it helps them fix problems such as not doing homework before it seriously damages a student’s GPA.

Ms. Bogart-Schmidt said that the short time frame allotted is one of the weaknesses of conferences.

“If a child is doing well, [six minutes is enough], but if a serious discussion is needed, no,” Ms. Bogart-Schmidt said.

Even in situations where the six minutes is enough, Ms. Bogart-Schmidt said that one of the most challenging parts of holding a conference is keeping on schedule, as many factors can cause delays.

For parents, conferences provide an educator’s opinion on their children’s progress academically and behaviorally.

“I gain a sense of the teacher’s personality and perspective on what is important about the class. I also gain a sense of how the teacher views my child’s performance,” said Ms. Andrew, a parent who generally attends conferences.

Some students, however, feel that conferences cause them stress, as they have to wait at home in anticipation of how the conference went.

“Students should be involved in the conferences, considering they are the subject of the meetings,” said freshman Madeline Finnegan.

Since a major component of these conferences is the discussion of grades between parents and teachers, the use of Parent Portal, a website that allows parents to see their child’s grades at any time, has raised some concerns as to whether conferences are still needed.

In response to this, Ms. Bogart-Schmidt said that, while Parent Portal has its uses, it puts more pressure on students, and that both students and parents may get too hung up on the grade shown on the website at a specific point in time, rather than their overall performance during the year.

Ms. Andrew said that Parent Portal leads to more beneficial conferences, as it allows conferences to be more substantive and less a review of grades, as Parent Portal, serves that role.