Parent-teacher conferences are quite an event at a particular high school in Manhattan. In response to having many students and only a short time for conferences, teachers must adapt to accomplishing their meetings on a very tight schedule. A New York Times article contains photos of a parent-teacher conference day at Stuyvesant High School. You can see parents gathered together marching up the steps to their assigned slots after a tape dropped at specifically 1pm. During time slot changes, some were even running across the school to make sure they made it to their appointments on time. Conferences were limited to only three minutes each.
Stuyvesant students were assigned the task of watching the clock for each conference. Once time concluded, the person seated outside the room would wave to signal it was time to change classes. Other students across the school used kitchen timers and even cowbells to indicate time was up. Parents find value in these short meetings because they want to get a sense of their children’s teachers. However, if there is a problem, another longer meeting will follow.
Other schools have developed different approaches. In some schools, advisors lead the conferences with parents. The West Side Collaborative Middle School, also in Manhattan, leaves it to the students to lead the conferences. Teachers then serve as supervisors for these situations. Parent engagement is an important part of student education. Some parents have even devised their own strategies for these meetings. One always makes a point to show a photo of her daughter to ensure the information is accurate. A parent shared a story about how her entire three minute session was indeed about the wrong child and there was nothing she could do, as time was up.
To learn more about New York Public School parent conference, visit the NYTimes article here.