By Angelito Balboa
It’s Parent-Teacher Conference season once again. Some teachers dread it and some like it. I must admit, at first, I was a little bit nervous about them but when parents showed up and I could feel the sense of enthusiasm in them, I got to like it later. In fact, Parent-Teacher Conferences are one of the events at school that I really enjoy attending because it gives me a better understanding of their child and it also allows me to communicate to parents how they can support their child’s success and particularly in technology classes. I have more than a hundred students in a semester and I can honestly say that I enjoy every conversation. Although there are some situations that conversations with some parents are challenging, in general, it is an amazing experience because parents are supportive. Here are some of the strategies that I apply to make Parent-Teacher Conferences successful.
Discuss the interests of their Child
Aside from hearing the progress of the parents’ child at school, many of them are interested to share what their child is interested in doing outside of classroom. This is a good opportunity for me to actually make my lessons more engaging and meaningful for students. I found out from a parent that one of my students enjoys composing music and in our Digital Art class, one of the projects that they had to do was create a music video. I approached my student and asked him if he would like to use one of his songs in the music video project, then he is welcome to do so. I could see the sense of excitement when he heard it because it gave him a sense of accomplishment.
I am usually surprised that some of my students are engaged in different interesting activities. I would know that their child is developing illustration and has a passion for anime. This gave me an idea to use to help engage the children in my class. I usually take note of these discussions so that I can remember all the things that we discussed and to let the parents know that I are interested in what they are saying as well.
Virtual Student-led Conferences
Many parents are interested to know what’s happening in the class and most of the time, they are clueless on what’s going on; that’s why Parent-Teacher Conferences are a great opportunity to showcase their child’s work. For instance, in my Mobile App Development class, some of them are amazed when they attend the Parent-Teacher conference and I show them their child’s app project or in Digital Art class when I show their child’s photography project. It is only during this time that they are able to see their child’s work. So, what happens to those who could not attend the PTC? What I usually do is, I ask my students to do a behind the scene video for their project. In the Mobile App Development class, I would require them to film themselves and tell them what the app is about and what problems they are trying to solve. I also ask them to walk through the process to prospective users and screencast how the app works. The reason why I use this format is so that even if the parents don’t have the application to open their child’s project, they can still access it. Then I send this video to the parents and many of them are very happy that even they are not able to attend the Parent-Teacher Conference, they still feel valued because their child’s work is being shared with them.
Demystify the fear of technology.
Some parents are reluctant to expose their children to technology, but you still have the power to change their perceptions about it. For instance, phones can be used to take photographs and some phones are significantly better than good cameras. When I show the parents their child’s photographs using their phones, they are astonished at the capabilities and skills that their child has. Another situation is that students can use their devices to create digital artwork and illustration wherein they can use software programs such as Procreate and Adobe Sketch. Some students also have a hard time designing a poster for their class and having an app in their device makes it handy for them to create one. Retype, Adobe Spark and Canva are very valuable tools to accomplish this task.
Give them hope
There are students who might be struggling with technology for a variety of reasons. A student might not have prior knowledge on how to use computer because his/her parent chose not to expose him/her computer at an early age. It could be that the school where the student came from didn’t have a strong technology program or offering of courses. Difficulty in comprehending words might also be a reason for having problems using technology. Whatever the reasons are, it is advisable to provide the parents with some options on how his/her child can learn technology. For example, if I notice that a student is struggling with technology, I will talk to the parents and tell them if their child can stay after school so that I can assist him/her to learn computer basics. Another option that I give parents is the after-school activity where students can learn technology trends. Parents appreciate this effort, and they will likely support you for this.