Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 14/14.6.3
Personal Conferences for Assessment
by Sarah Macomber
A personal conference is a conversation with a student that allows both the teacher and the student talk about where the student is in the class, and what things the student may need to focus on. Personal conferences give students goals to aim for, and to get a chance to assess their work in the class. Conferences can be a great way to give feedback to the student while letting the teacher know what areas need more attention.
Students should be able to:
- State what a personal conference is.
- List the advantages of personal conferences.
- List the disadvantages of personal conferences.
Student/Teacher conferences can help close the achievement gap by showing students what they need to work on, and what goals they need to set for themselves. It is important for students to have a chance to assess their own work, and to have one-on-one time to address their concerns. Conferences let teachers see how the students are doing not only academically, but in social and personal areas as well. (Akmal, 2002) It is important for the student to feel comfortable in the conference, and not feel that they are in trouble or have been singled out. The more comfortable the student feels, the more willing they are to open up about problems they may be experiencing. Having a formal structure for conferences lets the student know what to expect and calm anxieties they may feel. (Akmal, 2002) Conferences can be more casual as well by having them take place during class time, and having them be shorter and more direct.
An important goal in a parent/teacher conference is to create an alliance between the teacher and the parent. Both parties want the student to succeed and to have the best education possible. When setting up conferences, teachers should be sure to set them up with all the parents, and not just with those whose children are having problems in the class. While meeting with the parent, teachers should listen and be open to the parent's point of view. (Stevens and Tollafield, 2003) It is important for the teacher to be positive about the student, and to state some of their strengths while conferencing with the parents. "When explaining things like test scores to parents, teachers should be prepared to explain such specialized terms as "standard score" or "percentile" without oversimplifying. Visual aids or examples can often help with this task." (Stevens and Tollafield, 2003)
When possible, the student should be involved in the parent/teacher conference. They are the ones who will be most affected by the decisions made in the conference. Students can feel anxious if they are left at home while their parent meets with the teacher at school. Sending a letter home with the students helps parents to better understand their role in the conference as well as what to expect. (Enz and Serafini, 1995) Parents are often curious about their child's progress, and teachers can share with them how the student is doing and what they have observed in the classroom. At the conference, students can have a chance to show the parents a notebook or portfolio of their work. Students are often excited to get a chance to share their hard work and what they have accomplished. (Enz and Serafini, 1995)
Although conferences can be beneficial to all parties involved, attendance is often a problem many teachers face. "Research shows that 40% of parents never attend school programs." (Stevens and Tolafield, 2003) Oftentimes, both parents are working during the day, so teachers should be prepared to accommodate those parents who can't take off of work. Student/Teacher conferences can be equally as hard to set up. Holding these conferences during class time can take time away from instruction.
1. Teachers should only hold conferences with the parents whose children have problems in the class.
A. True B. False
2. Why are student/teacher conferences important?
A. Students can set new goals for themselves. B. Students get a chance to assess their work. C. Teachers find out what they need to focus on in class. D. All of the above.
3. Research shows that 40% of parents never attend school programs.
A. True B. False
Answers: 1. B 2. D 3. A
Enz, Billie J., Serafini, Frank. (1995). Assessment. Involving Students in the Assessment Process. Teaching PreK-8, 25(5), 96-97. Retrieved from Eric Database.
Stevens, Brenda A., Tollafield, Andrew. (2003). Creating Comfortable and Productive Partner/Teacher Conferences. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(7), 521-24. Retrieved from Eric Database.
Akmal, Tariq T. (2002 January/February). Ecological Approaches to Sustained Silent Reading. Clearing House, 75(3), 154-57. Retrieved from Eric Database.