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Parents’ time with teachers to double

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE ” Parents have been asking for longer conferences with teachers , and next year, they’ll have double the time.

The Board of Education decided to drop one eight-hour class day for students that will be dedicated to extending parent teacher conferences. Both parents and teachers have said that two,10-minute sessions a year aren’t enough to talk about a child’s education, and many parents end up feeling like they’re missing out on their child’s life.

Productive meetings are invaluable to a child’s education, they say, and doubling that time would allow parents and teachers to develop better relationships. Exactly how that conference time will be split up is up to each school.

The decision was spurred in part by a persistent grass-roots campaign led by several parents across the district who wanted more face time with teachers. Superintendent John Brendza said he and the board received a pretty clear message from those parents, and this is the result.

“It’s a good sign to parents district wide ” if they have a complaint or issue, they should go to the school board,” said Dana Maurer, who has a son at Edwards Elementary and has publicly asked for extended time at board meetings “They aren’t going to do what everyone wants, but they listen to the public.”

Ideally, conference time is used for parents and teachers to clue each other in to what the other can’t see and formulate a plan, Maurer said.

Parents get the story behind students’ report cards, the projects they bring home, the books they read, the kids they don’t get along with and what kind of math problems they just don’t get. Parents can let teachers know how much time kids spend on homework, what their favorite sports are and if they’re getting enough sleep.

But with other busy parents waiting anxiously outside the classroom door, the typical conference isn’t so relaxed. Teachers are then put in the uncomfortable position of working off the clock or sacrificing time with parents.

“The whole process of teaching is a team approach, and when we have more time to communicate (with teachers), it’s going to be better for the kids,” Maurer said.

Parents and teachers will be getting more time together, but the district wants to ensure that the time is productive.

“One of the criticisms we’ve received is that parents hear the same thing about their children every single time ” we want them to have more meaningful conversations about their child’s achievement and what can be done,” Brendza said.

So, it’s possible that you’ll see a more structured conference next time you sit down with a teacher. This could mean spending more time going over standardized test results with teacher s” going over what the scores mean, how a child has improved from year to year and what should be done to bring the scores up.

The district is also looking for consistency across the schools ” parents at Gypsum Elementary should be receiving the same type of information parents at Red Sandstone are receiving, Brendza said.

What exactly this new, more structured parent/teacher conference will look like hasn’t been decided yet. That will be developed by the first conferences next year, Brendza said.

With a full day of instruction being taken away, it’s also possible that the high schools will start school five minutes earlier to make sure they’re providing enough class time through the year.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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