How I failed conferences…

As I look back and reflect on parent-teacher conferences, I feel as if I failed the attempt. Or as my students say, it was an epic fail. In an attempt to promote understanding and open communication, I dominated the conversation and didn’t allow enough time for parents to ask questions.

This was my first year as a parent attending a parent teacher conference. I felt it opened my eyes to how it feels to sit on the other side of the table. It is so hard! I had a million questions. I wanted to know what is going on in the classroom…even if it is only a 4K program. All I really wanted to know is if my son is okay with himself and okay with others. There has to be a trust between parents and teachers. Every day, I am trusting his teacher with his education. Every day, parents trust me. We have to work together to help children feel positive self-worth and okay with themselves. One morning this past week, I told my son to “be a good boy” then I said…forget about that…”just be yourself.” To a four year old, he heard, “just be by yourself.” He didn’t like that. He wants to hang out with his parents every day. As his parent at conferences, I needed to hear from his teacher whether or not he is interacting with others in a positive way.

After his conference, I felt I was shown a new perspective. I wanted to open my classroom to my parents. I talked and talked about technology. I talked about the website. I talked about twitter. I talked about social networking. I talked about internet safety. I talked about skype and ipods. I talked about blogging. I talked and talked and talked. I didn’t take time to listen. I am sorry to my parents for not being a better listener. Each year teachers become more aware of how to be positive influences for students. Next year, I will listen.

Does anyone give parents a prompt to think about before conferences? Does anyone have any suggestions for listening at conferences…a sort of parent led conference?



Yesterday I received an email stating that my proposal for a technology workshop was approved. I literally screamed out loud! In March, I will participate in a WEMTA conference with three of my co-workers. This workshop is just an example of how technology has influenced my teaching and my passion for helping students be prepared for the changing world. I feel I must share a huge thank you to a very dear friend who has mentored me, Jessica Brogley.

Jessica and I started working together about 10 years ago. After one year of teaching French at Seymour High School, Jessica started teaching English. We were casual acquaintances.  We would talk about how our families were doing or how we spent a vacation. We were both relatively new to teaching so we were both pretty busy trying to stay ahead of our students. It wasn’t until last year that Jessica really became a mentor for me.

Jessica is a quiet leader. She shares information with others while never imposing or forcing her opinion. She encouraged the faculty to consider different technology to improve our methods and instruction. She would send out emails with ideas or links for teachers to try. Finally, I gave her ideas a try. I wish I would have tried earlier. The last year of teaching has been an exciting adventure for me…mostly thanks to Jess for opening my eyes to what is available to teachers. Then, I tried sharing with others. It is so hard to share!!! I have tried to share how twitter has changed some of my fundamental philosophies of education with some of my coworkers. Some think I’m crazy. As my sister Theresa says…teachers only have three options 1. Be boring 2. Be mean or 3. Be crazy. I guess crazy isn’t that bad.

A week ago, it was announced that Jessica would be taking a position as a technology coordinator at the New Glarus School District. I am so happy for her and for the educators and students that will have the opportunity to learn with her guidance. When I found out about the conference, I wanted to run to her former high school classroom and share the news with her. Whenever I had a question or got stuck with technology, Jess was always there to help me. She is so kind and understanding. Mostly though I am so grateful for her friendship and all the joy she has brought to my life. Thank you Jess.  Miss ya.