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Parent/Teacher Conferences

Sarah Kirchoff Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Parent Involvment

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“Conferences will be at the end of the quarter, make sure you are ready!” Where did the quarter go? Time to spend time assessing and gathering data to show parents. We also need to spend time reflecting on the students in our classroom and find positives in all our students. In kindergarten, the parents are still fairly involved and interested in what we discuss at conferences. If we start on a positive note, move into the data and scores, and move into what kind of student their child is on a personal level, they go smoothly. My pro-tip is always start and end on a positive. This takes planning and preparation. The portion of the conference where we discuss progress is very straightforward, it’s the beginning and the ending that might be difficult. Always finding something positive to say about a student can be difficult, depending on the child. Be very specific about behaviors, positive and negative. “Hannah is working well with others. She is always able to explain the directions to her peers if needed.” “Hannah is having difficulty keeping her hands to herself. I notice this happens a lot when we are lining up, or when we are working in pairs.” Giving parents specific examples of all behaviors helps them to “see” their child in your classroom. Always discuss solutions or strategies that you are using in class to address issues.  We are trusted with people they love the most and they want to hear about both struggles and victories. If we have been communicating effectively during the school year, there should never be surprises at conferences. Communication is key.

This quarter I had 100% conference attendance. This was possible because parents were offered options for in-person or virtual conferences. This was not an option for us before the pandemic. Now with the addition of virtual technology, we can communicate with parents from anywhere. Working parents can log in from work for 15 minutes to discuss progress. Parents with small children can log in from home for conferences. I had a parent that was in Ohio and the other parent logged in from his office at the same time. I was able to speak with both because of the resources available since the availability of Zoom and TEAMS.

Teaching during the pandemic was extremely difficult, but I think that it allowed parents to see us as teachers and people. It increased the amount of communication from parents to teachers, and vice versa. Parents are more connected to what is going on in the classroom and it gives them the opportunity to become more involved. We face new challenges each year when we teach. We have new students, parents, technology, but one thing that remains constant is the importance of effectively communicating with families. We need to take advantage of the new technology and the new opportunities to have parents more involved. Increased opportunity for communication is key to increased involvement and in turn, increases a positive perspective for parents and students.

 

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Sarah Kirchoff is a kindergarten teacher in the Higley Unified School District. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. Most recently, she became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs. Young children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom.

Comments 1

  1. Rachel Perugini

    Meanwhile, for my high school conferences I had 3 out of a 150 and 1 didn’t show up. I could have done more to reach out, but honestly, this year just felt impossible to do more. And, luckily for me, all the conferences we’re kids I had nothing but nice things to say about.

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