Parent-Teacher Conferences: each one is different, depending upon both the child and the adults present. Some students had grandmothers present, others moms, dads and even an aunt. It was interesting to see how the students' families concerns compared and contrasted with that of my mentor teacher and I.
Most of the time I was on the same page with my mentor teacher in what I felt were the students' strengths and weaknesses. Or, as one of my mentors' put it: How the student glows and grows. The grows being areas that could use improvement, and the glows being areas that the student shines in. I value the importance placed on the glowing areas of each student. Even though there are students who struggle everyday with behaving properly (an aspect that often snowballs into the academic areas), there is something that he/she is doing wonderfully. The parents need to know this. Without this communication, the parent sees the teacher as the bearer of bad news-no child or parent wants to come to conferences and hear only how badly the student is doing.
Some things I saw that I really liked that my mentors did were the environment. Both of my mentors had a table set up outside of the classroom with candies on it and books (one was a book of the students working, while the other were just books pulled from the classroom library). Either way, the value of literature is apparent from the moment the families walk into the building. The candy is just a comfort issue. Both of my mentors also held the conferences at tables large enough for 2-5 adults and a child (although 5 would be tight, should there have been a need, there were seats available). This was accommodating to all, especially the families in which mom and dad are divorced and both step parents are also involved in the child's life. Although during the conferences I attended, this was not the case, wouldn't it be wonderful if it were?
One thing that was interesting that I did not expect, was for me to be able to read my mentor teachers so well. I suppose working with them helps with that. I could tell the conferences that they were slightly hesitant about, nervous about, or ecstatic to tell the families how well the students were doing. There were only three families out of nearly twenty conferences that did not show. While this was disappointing, both of my mentors assured me that this was a typical occurrence, and I should not expect each family to come at the designated time, as that rarely happens. But, life is what it is. I know some of the families are single family homes, in which the parent works multiple jobs. It would be hard to schedule conferences with that hectic of a schedule.