Getting the most out of parent interviews

Getting the most out of Parent-Teacher Interviews / Student-led Conferences

Hearing how well your child is progressing, achieving their goals, and learning how you can support them in making academic and social progress, is an important and valuable process for whanau to be part of. 

At Wairakei Primary School, we encourage parents and caregiver to attend our Student-led Conference and Parent-Teacher Interviews. These generally happen twice a year.  Whanau are not limited to discussing their child’s progress at only these times. Staff value regular discussion with the parents/caregivers of their students throughout the year.

Our senior team has introduced Student-led Conferences, while other teams continue to use the Parent-Teacher Interview format. Following is some information about each of these reporting forms and some tips and advice for whanau before you attend these. 

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How can I support my child at the Student-led Conference or Parent-Teacher Interview?

Before the conference:

  • Book a conference/interview time – this can be done through the school website

  • Talk to your child about things you might like to see or discuss.

On the conference day:

  • Come with your child.

  • Listen to your child as they are sharing their learning. 

  • Enjoy the opportunity to see your child in their learning environment.

  • Celebrate your child's progress to date.

  • Complete a feedback and reflection form

After the conference:

  • Continue to celebrate your child's successes and support them to achieve their goals.

Student-led Conferences 

Many schools in New Zealand are using some form of student-led or three-way conferencing to report to and share information with parents. This reporting procedure, where the student is actively involved in the learning and reporting process. Students have more of an opportunity to share with their parents their growth as a learner.  It is a shift away from the one-way sharing of information from teacher to whanau. Most schools involved in this type of reporting find there is a significant rise in whanau satisfaction with and attendance at conference times.

Student-led conferences are designed to achieve the following goals:

For the student

  • to demonstrate evidence of learning

  • to teach reflection and self-evaluation

  • to develop organisational and communication skills

  • to increase their self-confidence

  • to accept responsibility for their learning

For the whanau

  • to increase parent understanding of their child’s learning 

  • to celebrate achievements

  • to be part of the goals setting process

For the teacher

  • to encourage students, parents, and teachers to engage in open and honest dialogue

  • to teach the key competencies through an authentic learning situation

What is a Student-led Conference?

A student-led conference is a meeting run by the student for his or her parents/caregivers, entirely focused on the student's recent learning. During the conference the student presents work in different curriculum areas, discussing the process of learning and the progress made to date.

Why do we have Student-led Conferences?

It is a reporting process focused on improving student achievement. Research also shows parental involvement in schools and classrooms has a positive impact on children’s learning (Bastiani, 1988; Epstein, 1986).

         ‘If the focus is to be kept on learning, and the ownership of the learning with the     

         child, then the best person to talk about the learning is the learner.’ (Absolum, 2006)

How do Student-led Conferences work?

Conferences can last up to 30 minutes. You do not have to stay this long if your child has finished sharing his/her learning. Two or three Student-led Conferences will be held at the same time in your child’s classroom. Each child will have a basic agenda that they will follow.

Your child will show you evidence of learning, talk about their progress and review goals. The teacher will join your conference and will expand on the information your child has shared or for you to clarify something if necessary.

Prompts to support your child at Student-led Conferences:

  • What were you learning to do in this piece of work?

  • What are your next learning steps?

  • What are you most proud of? Why?

  • What are your goals for … reading/writing/maths?

  • Which area of learning do you find easiest? Why?

  • Which area of learning do you find trickiest? Why?

  • What could we do together to help you with your learning goals?

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Parent-Teacher Interviews

What are Parent-Teacher Interviews?

Parent-teacher interviews are a great opportunity to check in with your child’s teacher about their academic progress. Generally, you will meet with your child’s teacher in their classroom for a short interview time. It is a good opportunity for you and your child to talk openly with their teachers. If you wish to discuss particular topics further, your child’s teacher will be happy to make another appointment time, after the Parent-Teacher Interviews.

How can you get the most from your child’s Parent-Teacher Interview?

Talk to your child about how they feel they are going at school. You can refer to their latest school report. Reassure your child that you are looking forward to hearing what the teacher has to say about their learning. Consider what question you would like to ask at the interview and be prepared to share your insights into your child’s learning from a parent’s perspective.  Be open to suggestions from the teacher, about how you can help your child’s learning at home.

Below are some examples of questions you might like to ask at the Parent-Teacher Interview:

1. How has my child's education improved during the year?

2. Where should my child be now?

3. What does my child need to learn next?

4. How engaged would you say my child is in your classroom?

5. How well does my child interact with other students?

6. What would you say my child’s biggest strength or achievement has been so far this year? 

7. What would you say is the biggest challenge facing my child for the next term is?

8. How can I help them at home to achieve their goals?

Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to better support your child throughout the rest of the school year.

Remember: learning starts at home. The home and school partnership is an important aspect of your child having success with their learning. 

Enjoy this experience with your child. At Wairakei Primary School we always look forward to being able to share this reporting time with our students and their whanau. 

References:

Absolum, M. (2006) Clarity in the Classroom, Auckland, Hodder.

Bastiani, J. (1988) How Many Parents Did You See Last Night?' A critical look at some of the problems of evaluating home/school practice.' In J. Bastiani (ed.) Parents and teachers 2: From policy to practice. Windsor: Nelson 206–218.

Epstein, J. L. (1986) Parents’ reactions to teacher practices of parent involvement. Elementary School Journal, 86, 277–294.

Keywords: student-led conference, parent-teacher interviews, achievement, student agency

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