Parent-teacher conferences are a critical component of every school year. This is an opportunity for teachers to share with families the areas of success for their students and areas where there is an opportunity for growth. This is also an opportunity for parents to ask questions and to learn how they can support their children at home.
The pandemic had an impact on many areas of life including conferences. To limit the spread of the coronavirus, conferences were moved to the virtual setting. Although students are now learning in person across the country, many schools have kept virtual conferences. When the pandemic ends, virtual conferences should continue to be an option.
One of the biggest complaints of teachers is a lack of parent engagement, which includes frustration with parents not attending parent-teacher conferences. Just because parents may be absent from traditional conferences, it does not mean they don’t care or don’t want to attend conferences. Virtual conferences provide more options. Parents can attend from any location. They can use a break at work to chat with their children’s teachers—especially if they don’t have hours available to take off work. Virtual conferences also eliminate drive time, which would have to be factored into the amount of time some parents would have to take off to attend.
Virtual conferences are also beneficial for teachers. Instead of collecting a hard copy portfolio of work, teachers can easily share their screen and show their students’ work to their parents. Teachers or staff who are bilingual and interpret at conferences can move from virtual call to virtual call instead of trying to dart from classroom to classroom.
School staff should not complain about parental involvement when multiple options for parents to connect with teachers are not available. Hopefully, the day will come for in-person conferences to come back which also allows parents to look at their children’s classroom, desk, and locker. But if a parent cannot come in person, virtual conferences should still be an option.
Shawnta is a married mother of identical twin boys. As an Indiana native, she attended school in two Indianapolis school districts; she attended Indianapolis Public Schools for two years and completed her education in Lawrence Township Schools. Her sons entered kindergarten during the 2016-2017 school year, so she not only navigates Indianapolis schools from the educator's perspective but also ...