You get to talk about your kids more in Eagle Co. | VailDaily.com
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You get to talk about your kids more in Eagle Co.

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The first round of parent teacher conferences this year were on time and not rushed, says Dana Maurer, a parent of two children at Edwards Elementary.

Maurer was one of many parents in a persistent grass-roots campaign last spring asking for longer parent teacher conferences. The parents ended up convincing the school board to drop one eight-hour class day for students and dedicate it to conferences. That move effectively doubled the time parents and teachers have together.

This year, Maurer had 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes to talk with both a second grade teacher and a kindergarten teacher at Edwards Elementary, and she says it made a difference. Most parents she knows at the school felt the same way, she said.

“The conferences were very relaxed, more thorough and they took advantage of that extra 10 minutes,” Maurer said. “Twenty minutes was the perfect amount of time to get the information we needed. I think it was a great decision.”

Ideally, conference time is used for parents and teachers to clue each other in to what the other can’t see. Parents learn about what they don’t notice at home, the books their kids read, the students 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 for their turn, the typical conferences weren’t so relaxed, parents told board members last spring.

Teachers were then put in the uncomfortable position of working off the clock or sacrificing time with parents.

“This supports the teachers and their time,” said Heidi Hanssen, principal at Edwards Elementary. “It was great that they got an extra day of compensation for all the time they put in beyond their conferences.”

Parents and teachers are not only getting more time together, but the district has taken steps to make sure that time is more productive.

Teachers at all the schools are being asked to talk about specific things in their conferences, such as standardized test results in reading, writing and math, said Heather Eberts, directory of elementary education for the district.

Teachers were asked to have a student’s specific strengths and weaknesses in mind to talk about when a parent comes through the door.

The district is doing this to create some consistency across the schools ” parents at Gypsum Elementary should be receiving the same type of information parents at Red Sandstone are receiving, school leaders have said.

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


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