I'm sitting in my room enjoying the peace and quiet, but at the same time I'm disappointed I'm not inundated by parents wanting to talk to me. It's parent/teacher conference time, but you'd never know it by looking at the empty hallways. I know it is still early in the day, but over the course of my 23+ year teaching career, I've noticed my conference numbers are decreasing dramatically. It seems that the draw of attending conferences is dwindling with time.
Is it possible that giving parents online access to their student's grades is sending the message that attending conferences isn't necessary anymore? I love the idea that parents can get up-to-date information on their student's progress simply by going to a website, but that face-to-face time with teachers is still important. There are things that need to be discussed that don't appear in a letter grade or percentage. I love having parents sit down with me so that I can encourage and uplift them - after all, I only have angels for students. An added benefit to having that face-to-face conversation is that it builds a connection with parents. It gives them the opportunity to put a face with a name. After a parent leaves my room, I become less of the stereotypical teacher (we all have preconceived ideas about what a teacher is) and more of a human being.
Attending conferences sends a message to students. It says, "Hey, Son (or daughter), I care about how you're doing in school." When students know that their parents care and are checking up on them, they typically work harder and do better. When they know that someone is watching out for them, they want to do what they can to prove themselves worthy of that caring. So if that's the case, what message does NOT attending send? Therein lies my discouragement.
Come on parents...don't leave me AND YOUR CHILD hanging. Get involved. Show them that you care and that a good education is important.