Not Your Parents’ Old-Style Teacher Conference

A new team approach – blending classroom learning with home support — is revolutionizing teacher-parent conferences in an HISD pilot program.

Centered on “Academic Parent-Teacher Teams,” the approach being tried at eight schools brings in groups of parents to meet with their child’s teacher three times a year. Instead of merely walking out with a report card, these parents know where their youngster stands in relation to the rest of the class – and take with them important tools to help support in the home what’s being taught in the classroom.

Teachers share what the class objectives are and what the students should be learning, as well as the results of simple assessments based around skills such as addition and subtraction.

The assessment results are shared to the entire group as a bar graph of all the student’s scores, labeled by numbers. Parents receive their child’s number and can anonymously identify their child’s score in relation to the other children’s scores in the class, and the class goal. Parents then set goals for their child’s learning over the next 60 days and learn simple games and activities to practice at home to help their child reach those goals.

Teachers gain instructional partners, parents understand what their child needs to learn and how to support that learning, and students receive instructional support from both at school and at home.

The potential of parents as instructional partners surprised Patterson ES teacher DeMetria Jones.

“I was a little skeptical at first, but after the first meeting I was elated that we had such an amazing outpour of parental support. My students came in [the next day] discussing the activities that they had already started playing at home with their parents and how much fun it was. I can hardly wait to plan new activities and establish goals for the next meeting.”

Billye Jordan, mother of a first-grade student from Wharton K-8 Dual Language Academy, was just as motivated after her first APTT meeting. “I feel totally empowered after this session to be able to help my son and my daughter –I feel like I have a cape on. I’m excited about what’s about to take place,” she said.

Leah Aschmann, mother of first- and fourth-graders at Wharton, also expressed excitement for the opportunity to partner with her child’s teachers. “This meeting was probably the most impactful parent meeting I have been a part of in my six years of being a parent in HISD schools.”

Other schools participating in the pilot are Fonwood Early Childhood Center, Pugh, Whittier, Durham, Garden Villas elementaries and Welch and Sugar Grove Academy middle schools. HISD hopes to expand the program to more schools in the future.

View a video of one parent-teacher team in action at Welch Middle School: