BY NICOLE MCGRANE, M.Ed
Barranca Mesa Elementary
Author of Teaching While Handcuffed
Each year, elementary teachers participate in two rounds of parent-teacher conferences which occur once in the Fall and once in the Spring. I feel like I have been teaching forever but as conferences approach during each school year, my stress and anxiety levels increase. This has not improved over the years and if anything it has gotten worse. Being put on the defensive, forced to justify my teaching and disrespected, in general, have added to the uneasiness felt when anticipating parent meetings. I have reflected and written a great deal about the parent-teacher-student dynamic and I want to discuss some positive changes that are benefiting our students.
We just finished our first round of conferences in 5th grade at Barranca. After 2.5 days of back to back conferences in which we met with 38 parents and their 5th grader, I went home and reflected. While still exhausted, all I felt was thankful and optimistic for the rest of the school year. These conferences were filled with positivity, support, cooperation, and unified messages. It was clear to students that they were surrounded by people who believed in them, loved them, and expected nothing less than their best effort. I can not remember the last time I didn’t go home on the Friday of the conference week totally exhausted and in need of a pep talk. The feeling of fulfillment and gratitude after conferences this time was a welcomed and much-needed improvement.
To all the teachers, parents, and students who work together, support each other, and empower students to be responsible for their learning – Keep up the great work! There is much still left to be desired in the educational system but when teachers and parents can work together with mutual respect and collaboration, students win. May this be a sign of the future for conferences in Los Alamos. We are in this together.
Thank you for supporting education and being part of the solution!