As fall conference time approaches, I remembered that last year I wasn’t able to attend my middle son’s conferences due to several personal and professional conflicts. As an educator this didn’t sit well with me so I was trying to figure out a way to get the information about my son’s progress without having to attend the conferences. So the week of conferences, I decided to email all of his teachers and ask them three simple questions:
- What is Austin doing well?
- What does Austin need to do to improve?
- What can we (parents and teachers) do to ensure that he continues to do well and improves in the areas that have been identified?
I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of response rate I would receive, but I thought I would at least give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised by the email responses from almost all of the teachers. One teacher felt that she needed to call me as she thought it was easier than to put the information in an email. She made my day! Not only did the majority of the teachers respond to the three questions, but the kind of information was descriptive and complete. As a parent, I felt very informed and didn’t feel like I had missed out on the face to face conversation with his teachers. Following the email responses, I sent an email to the middle school principal and told him how pleased I was with the teachers’ responses and that the three questions that I asked gave me the appropriate information to know what I needed to do as a parent to help my child be successful.
So for thinking that I would be missing out on conferences I felt that I received more descriptive feedback than if I had attended the conferences. I encouraged the principal to use questions similar to these because they really got at the heart of what the conference should be about. If you are an educator, consider these three simple, yet powerful questions to help the child and parents know what next steps should be taken to ensure future success. If you are a parent, consider asking these questions if you believe the conference isn’t providing you with the information that you need to support your child. And finally, if you are a child who is leading your conference, consider preparing your answers to these questions and then share them with your parents.