Op-Ed: Attend A Parent Teacher Conference

February 27, 2016

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

By NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

This month, all schools will open their doors to families and teachers will have meaningful conversations with families about their kids. Like many of you, I remember attending my daughters’ family nights – both curious, eager, and busy – as I know our hard working families are. Why is it important to attend? It is critical to be a partner in your child’s education, to hear about their development in school and discover ways you can support their growth. While these conferences give families a snapshot of their child’s academic progress and can serve to develop a plan for improvement, it is also an opportunity to build a more frequent relationship with teachers and school staff.

Involving families in their child’s educational journey is not an add-on, it is central to my vision of success in our schools. In every job I’ve had – as teacher, principal, superintendent, and deputy chancellor, I strengthened family involvement and the results are powerful: student achievement goes up. Families should feel welcomed at their schools this month – and throughout the entire school year – and play an active role to ensure students are attending school each day.

Many families will attend student-led parent teacher conferences, where your child will help facilitate the discussion. This is an exciting way for our students to demonstrate their independence, take responsibility for their successes and challenges, and hone their communications skills and poise. Before your meeting, ask your child questions about what will make this meeting productive, their priorities, and any questions or concerns they may have.

Here are a few questions families should consider asking their teacher:

  • What are my child’s goals to ensure they are ready for next year?
  • What are the next exams and evaluations I should be aware of?
  • Is my child meeting their academic potential?
  • How can I help with my child’s learning at home?
  • What types of resources and programs do you recommend?

Pencil in your March parent teacher conference now:

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  • March 2-3 (elementary schools)
  • March 16-17 (middle schools)
  • March 10-11 (high schools) and
  • March 7-8 (District 75 schools).

Every New York City school parent should participate and meet with teachers, learn about the curriculum, upcoming events and become involved in your child’s academic career.

Family conferences are one important piece of the puzzle. Reach out to your school’s parent coordinator, learn about upcoming family events and programs, participate in family workshops and volunteer when you can to help in other ways. Finally, if you aren’t using your NYC Schools Account, remember to register when you’re at school. This platform allows parents access to key information about their child’s progress in school, and is accessible on a computer, phone or tablet – making it easier to stay involved.

Together, we will build stronger family-community ties and this will lead to improved student outcomes. When families play an active role in their child’s academic work; our students do better. We all do better.

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