By Elena Jaime, Director of Lower School
Parent-teacher conferences are an important time in our school community. Each 30-minute conference offers families and teachers the ability to build on the partnership they’ve developed during classroom visits before school started, Back to School Night in August, and through the “Week Ahead” emails teachers send each week. Since August, your children have been growing in many ways: as readers, writers, mathematicians, social scientists, artists, and friends, and the teachers are eager to share their observations of your child and the work that is happening in the classroom.
Why are families so essential to the school, and what does this have to do with conferences? Teachers, as experts on children and their development, create meaningful and educational experiences for their students. Our teachers not only get to know each of their students individually, but are also able to speak to the milestones that children typically achieve in their academic, social, and emotional lives. They carry this breadth of knowledge, having the advantage of experience with many children at a particular age range. This is an important perspective to have during a conference, as parents and teachers discuss the progress of each child and set goals for the coming months. The teacher perspective is also a major piece of the puzzle in thinking about how we understand each child.
Another important piece of the puzzle is the perspective that families bring to the conference, providing insight that teachers do not possess. In other words, teachers are experts of children, and families are experts of their own child. You, as your child’s caregiver, have the ability to provide a window into the ways in which your child experiences the world outside of the classroom. It is a valuable perspective to bring to this important conversation.
More often than not, parents and teachers share a similar view on how a child is experiencing their academic, social and emotional life at school. You will make many connections as you hear the description of your child’s day, and may say, “Yes, I see this at home.” Occasionally, you may be surprised by a teacher’s observation and unclear as to how this observation fits into your understanding of your child. It is at these moments that we need to call upon the trust that has been developed from the beginning of the year to understand that both perspectives and both realities of a child can exist. The way your child experiences the day, in a classroom setting, among a group of children, engaged in deep and meaningful academic work, can differ from what you see at home, and knowing this information also adds more information to the puzzle of developing a plan of support. Rather than a point of departure, differing perspectives can offer the adults valuable insight regarding the whole child.
Ultimately, the goal of the family conference is to strengthen the support system that each child has in place in order for each child to realize their full potential, both academically and socially-emotionally. TCS has always been committed to providing academic challenges within a nurturing environment, and at each conference, you will hear about the ways in which that work is happening at school.
Thank you in advance for the openness and thoughtfulness that you will bring to the conversations with teachers, and the perspective that you will add to the conference. We also wish to thank the teachers for their deep dedication to the students, hard work in preparing for these conferences, and their commitment to partnering with you in order to support each child.