ALBANY, N.Y. Oct. 1, 2008 - Stressing the importance of building strong links between home and school, New York State United Teachers today urged parents to attend parent-teacher conferences. "Establishing good lines of communication between parents and teachers is a first step toward ensuring that students have a successful school year," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.
Parent-teacher conferences are primarily held at the end of the first academic quarter, from late October through mid-December.
Iannuzzi said the benefits of parental involvement are observed firsthand by teachers in the classroom and backed by research. A study by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future found that home and family factors influence student achievement even more than teacher qualifications and class size, and a National Middle School Association report determined parental involvement improves student attendance and educational performance, fosters better classroom behavior and increases community support for schools.
"Attending parent-teacher conferences is one way to send a message to children that school - and education - is important," Iannuzzi said.
Aside from meeting with parents on scheduled conference days, teachers often are willing to meet with parents before or after school, or make other arrangements when parents have tight work schedules. Still, the union leader urged parents to plan ahead in order to be available on these days to ensure they have an opportunity to meet with their child's teacher. Iannuzzi also encouraged employers to make it as easy as possible for parents to do so.
After these school conferences, parents should follow up with their child. "Talk about the conference and set up parameters to encourage their child's success," Iannuzzi suggested.
Middle schools and high schools may not schedule specific conference days, but Iannuzzi noted it is just as important for parents of older students to keep the lines of communication open. Many teachers have e-mail and respond quickly to parental concerns. Parents can also make appointments with teachers to discuss their child's progress toward meeting Regents' graduation requirements. Parents may also want to discuss their child's college or job plans, as well as collect information from school counselors about internships, the college application process and financial aid.
NYSUT has produced a public service announcement for radio stations throughout the state, reminding parents of the importance of attending parent teacher-conferences.
Here are some tips from NYSUT for a successful parent-teacher conference:
Be an active participant in the conference.
Write down your questions for the teacher and the teacher's responses.
Discuss your child's needs, special skills, study habits and anything in your home life that could affect your child's classroom performance.
Ask about homework, grading and discipline policies.
Ask what you can do at home to ensure your child's success.
Once home, make a plan and implement it.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.