While family conferences are an add-on to the typical schedule and prep time, those conferences do support essential conversations, focus, and analysis--the kind of work that deepens what we are able to do for every child.
As educators we are advocates for the groups of children we teach. Each day we make the best possible choices to teach our students well. When we meet with family members, we meet with individual children's advocates--the ones who keenly see that child's needs and interests. It's in our best interest and duty to listen carefully to every family member and hear their words, needs, interests, and hopes for their child.
Yesterday as I listened to many family members, the following general needs stood out, many of which we already focus on as a teaching/learning team:
- Know every child very well. Know what they love and want.
- Stay on top of every child's learning--know well his/her strengths, challenges, and needs, and respond to that regularly.
- Nurture children's passions--make time in the curriculum so that every child has a chance to shine and develop that which he/she loves.
- Build a strong foundation of detail and big ideas--make time to edit the writing, respond to the math, read with a child, and coach in all areas.
- Design and choose activities for learning well--focus in on the most important learning efforts, response, and coaching since time is precious, and that work is critical to teaching students well.