Ok, since you're a teacher (or you're one who's thoroughly involved in education, one way or another), you have a pretty clear idea what you'd like to accomplish in your own child's parent-teacher conference. Make the stakes high, here. Think of your child (theoretically or actually) in some particular grade or class. You walk in, greet the teacher, take a seat. After some nice chit chat and a few appreciative remarks about what the teacher has been doing, you get to the real question. You ask...

(I'm trying to find out what a group of educators really want to know, when they're on the flip side of a conference. Please imagine that you'd get a heartfelt and honest answer to your question, and maybe even a prolonged discussion.)

What do you ask?

Tags: children, educators', goals, parents, teachers, ultimate

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What I'd really love to know is...do you like my child? Do you know who she is? Do you find her as funny, charming, kind, and sensitive as I do?

But what I ask (which is also important to me) is...does she have friends and get along with others? Who are her friends and how do they relate to each other? Also, what progress has she made since ________ (fill in the blank from the last time you met or put in September)?

And, since my child became school aged, I have dealt with my own parent-teacher conferences very differently. I do realize that the parents want to know that I know and like their child. So I spend more time on why I enjoy their children. Then we get to progress. Parents seem more pleased than they were when I was all business. Every parent just wants to know that someone else thinks their child is as special as they think they are.
That's just the kind of thing I was really hoping to hear. That's the way I think, too. It'll be good from some others about what educators ask of educators. I'm developing some theories about how we may be different as a "set of parents" than parents in general.
Have you read The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot?
I always tell my kids that the first question I'll ask is "Is my child nice?" which is the same as your second question. I'd really like to ask your first question first... but it's hard to frame correctly, in the right tone.
I have begun to run my conferences (as a teacher with parents of my students) differently, too.
I agree with Lisa! All I ask is "Is my child respectful of others? Do they contribute to the learning environment in a positive way? "

Too many parents in my community are focused on results. They want to know what their child can do to get straight A's. I wish all parents were concerned about what kind of character their child is building, whether they are accountable for their behavior, and if they are developing integrity, empathy, and caring.

I have a child who gets straight A's and another one who gets B's and C's. The B/C student works just as hard as the A student at the academic stuff, but really what I want me kids to know is that being a good person is really more important than grades. In twenty years, the math quizzes and the spelling tests will be meaningless....but the kindness and respect for others is what sticks!
So true, Nadine! My daughter gets straight A's and I am very proud of her for that. But I'm most proud of her kindness to her classmates, her creativity, her uniqueness. And I want her teachers to see those things, not just her straight A's.
I have no children but as a female and in the future i would like to know how my child is doing academically and socially. i would be concern about her behavior as well. however, i would want to know what they are learning. But i would want to know the truth, so that way as a parent i would be able to help my child in his/her weakness. I would also want to know how i could help overall.
Typically I want to know about their progress and educational achievements. I also want to know how they compare to the rest of the class in general. As a parent, the one thing I never learn in a conference is whether or not my child is a leader, follower or loner. How do the others kids react to my child? How does my child interact with other kids? I think these are important issues especially in the elementary grades. What do you think?

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