It’s conference time in my neck of the forest and I’ve been reflecting on how this process could be made better with a little technology. This time can be stressful for all the parties involved but why? Conferences should be time where the education team (parent, teacher, student) work on strategies to reach the student’s potential. I know technology is not the answer to all the problems in education, but it can certainly be used to make it better. Read on past the break to see how I think technology could be used to make this process a little better.
In my school (I know it’s not like this everywhere), but we have a sign up sheet and it is first come first serve. This causes some problems because on that first day of conferences, parents are hovering around waiting for that sign up sheet to be posted. It adds an element of stress and when some parents show up an hour later, it is not uncommon to find some teachers have been totally booked. Ouch! What I would like to see is an electronic sign up sheet where parents can sign up for times up to two weeks before. It could be the parents sign up for their time or parents e-mail the teachers and they sign the parents up.
On the big day the teacher will post the list with the times, and if there are any open slots, then parents can show up and sign up. This will cut down on that initial stress, give parents more control of their timetable, and instead of a large group of parents running from room to room (yes, running) it will mostly be planned out and a lot more calm. I think it is a good idea and we (parents and the school) have the capabilities to pull this off.
On another note, what is the purpose of these meetings? At my school we are very grade oriented and the final goal is to help our students achieve as highly as they can, so they may move onto a good university. So, most of my conferences seemed to be focused on “How can my child improve her/his grade?” However, I’ve been building digital portfolios and when students have not done so well, we had something we could look at. On the other end of the spectrum I let the students doing well more or less run the meeting as they went through their portfolios. It was nice on both accounts and parents seemed to really enjoy it. The conference went from how their child achieved, to what their child has learned and created. That is what I wish more conferences were like.