During the week of Oct. 7 all buildings in the district will participate in Parent-Teacher Conferences. This is a longstanding Mexico Public Schools tradition that aims to help establish and grow relationships between parents and their students' teachers. Several years ago, Mexico Middle School took a hard look at parent-teacher conferences to determine if they could be improved for our students. We looked at what kind of information was shared, how it was shared, and if we were seeing benefits from that process. Collectively we decided that we would try student-led parent-teacher conferences. The process falls in line perfectly with our mission of “Making Minds Stronger.”
Student-led conferences has evolved over the last several years. In the beginning, students filled out a fairly simple sheet of paper that essentially asked them to explain how they were doing in school academically and behaviorally. This year, each student will create a Google Slides presentation that includes explaining how they contribute to our mission, “MakingMindsStronger” and our vision, “Educating, Engaging, & Empowering Students to Become Lifelong Learners.” They also will communicate their successes and challenges in the classrooms as well as our standardized tests. During the presentation, they focus on the steps they are taking to grow as a student.
What we have found is that our kids gain a lesson in self-awareness and empowerment during this process. A foundational premise of the middle school concept is to create a safe environment where students learn to hold themselves accountable for their own actions and learning with the support of a team of teachers. Thus, student-led conferences fit like a glove. They take more preparation and some students struggle to look at their progress in a realistic way but we know this is because of their brain development and we work to guide them. When this works, it is empowering for both the student and the teacher. When it doesn’t, we figure out a different solution in order to get to the empowerment piece.
Student-led parent-teacher conferences are not just good for kids. Parents appreciate the communication from their students as well. We have learned, over the past couple of years, kids have to do some practicing on what that looks like in presenting to their parents. It can be hard to talk in front of an audience, especially when that audience expects you to do well in school and has the power to take away your beloved phone or technology. However, this puts the ball in the students’ court. The student has the chance to come up with solutions to their own shortcomings or how they will continue to grow and if they need help, there is always a teacher there. This is critical to their own accountability and empowerment.
The middle school is lucky to have great parents who support their kids. We strive for 100% attendance at conferences in the fall and the spring because we want to continue to grow in our relationship with parents in order to ensure student success. We look forward to seeing you during the week of Oct. 7 in one of our public school buildings.
If you still need to schedule your appointment, call your child’s school today.