Gone are the days when we entered our parent-teacher conferences asking, “Is he sharing?” “Does he sit still when he’s supposed to?”
Our questions, our wonderings, our thoughts, seem a little more elusive, a little more in-depth now that our “little ones” are in middle school. Things like “Is she working up to her potential?” is now more what occupies our brain.
Middle school is a whole different beast, to say the least. By design, we’ve been required to “step out” a bit. We’re not “at school” like we were in the elementary years. Much of the feedback, the input, and the information that we can glean from our child’s middle school days come from his or her sharing of information, the report card, school communication, and the parent-teacher conference.
At conference time, here are a few things to maximize your parent-teacher conference:
Ask about his or her demeanor and attitude at school. (You just may find it a little refreshing to find that the “tween” demeanor and attitude you see at home may be a little more pleasant at school!)
Focus on your child’s overall strengths and areas for development. Explore beyond your child’s grades. Look at the big picture. What does the teacher see as your child’s overall strengths – outside of grades, tests and homework? What traits, behaviors, or characteristics could your child more fully develop? Share what you see. Team up on ways that you can build upon your child’s strengths and support him or her in the areas for development.
Get a clear picture of the expectations and responsibilities of your child, both while in school and in homework. Is he or she meeting them?
Make it a three-way street. Prior to your conference, ask your child if he or she has any questions, concerns, or topics that he or she would like you to bring up to the teacher. Share the teacher’s feedback with your child. The conference is a great way to connect, re-connect, and foster ongoing development with your child.
Find out what you can do at home to best support your child. One of my favorite things to ask teachers is: If he were your child, what would you focus on?
And, last, but not least: Enjoy the time. Savor the feedback you gain from the teacher and cherish this unique stage of your child’s life.