Overview of Teacher Conferences and Open Houses for 2016-17

NOTE: The window for teacher conference registration will be November 2, 2016. The instructions and information can be found at this site on the district webpage:

We are taking a different approach to conferences this year. After careful assessment of the surveys, a committee of teachers and parents/guardians has proposed a new model for conferences and open houses to pilot in the 2016-2017 school year.

Thank you to the parents/guardians and teachers who filled out the guardian-teacher conference survey last fall. The feedback we received indicated that while parents/guardians and teachers enjoy the one-on-one interaction that the current set up allows, the conferences were too short, hard to schedule, rushed, and unsubstantial. In addition, many teachers indicated that those who most needed the conferences were not helped by the current model. Parent feedback reflected a desire to connect with the teacher but indicated that an actual conference was not necessary.

Some highlights of our findings:
*With teacher loads of over 100 students, it is difficult to find time to meet with every parents/guardians. Time must come from teacher evenings or from instructional time during the day.

* Teachers feel that they need a time to meet with the parents/guardians of students where there are issues to discuss. These parents/guardians often do not attend conferences.
Teachers feel that at least 10 minutes is necessary for these meetings.
* By “issues” teachers and parents/guardians meant a range of topics that might be important for parents/guardians and teachers to discuss. These are NOT necessarily “problems” or low grades.

* Many parents/guardians value the opportunity to meet their student’s teachers, even where there is no significant issue to discuss.

* Some parents/guardians felt it was “their duty” to attend conferences, whereas teachers did not and research does not show a benefit from one on one conferences.

* For students with significant challenges there are other venues for problem-solving, through guidance, special education liaisons, deans, and meetings during teacher office hours.

* November is the preferred time for first semester conferences.
There is a need for a meeting in the beginning of the second semester.

* Teachers and parents/guardians preferred the scheduled conferences overwhelmingly over the walk-in format.

After careful assessment of the surveys, a committee of teachers and parents/guardians has proposed a new model for conferences to pilot in the 2016-2017 school year.

Historically there have been two main reasons for conferences.
* For parents/guardians to connect with the teachers.
* For teachers and parents/guardians to address the needs of students who require extra communication.

In 2016-17, will experiment with separating those two goals. We propose a conference model that uses open houses, receptions, and conferences for parents/guardians and teachers to interact.

Open Houses are intended to allow parents/guardians to connect with the school and meet the teachers. In 2016-17, there will be three Open House opportunities.
* We will have the traditional Open House in September (9/20 - 7:00-9:00 pm), which will allow parents/guardians to visit their student’s classes and hear from their teachers.

* We will add a Teacher Reception in December after school (12/6 - 1:30-3:30 pm)for teacher appreciation.

* We will also hold a second semester Open House in February (2/2 - 7:00-9:00pm). The second open house will provide an initial teacher meeting for second semester courses and an opportunity to follow up on the activities of yearlong classes.

Parents/Guardian-Teacher Conferences are intended to provide one-on-one meetings for those who have a need to speak with a teacher. These visits afford parents/guardians the opportunity of meeting and discussing with teachers areas of mutual concern and interest relative to students’ total school experience:

* We have expanded the conference time slot to 10 minutes.

* There are 3 conference dates in November, two during early release days (11/15 and 11/29 - 12:30-2:30) and one in the evening (11/17 - 6:00-8:00 pm).

*Although these conferences are be open to all, we encourage only those parents/guardians with a need for one to one discussion to attend these conferences.

* In order to allow for the most access, we also encourage parents/guardians to limit conferences to two teachers.

*Where there are issues that require more than one or two 10-minute conversations, it is recommended that parents/guardians contact Guidance, administration, or the teacher for assistance.

*Parents/guardians may schedule time for consultation with members of the administration, guidance and faculty. Appointment should be pre-arranged.

Parents/guardians should also remember that they can make appointments with teachers during their office hours, if there is a pressing need.

The pilot program is planned for the 2016-2017 school year and will be accompanied by a survey requesting your feedback about these changes.

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