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The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

Parent Teacher Conferences: an efficient way to communicate with parents or a waste of time?

Photo by Zach Aigner

Parent teacher conferences have long been a standard practice where parents can visit face-to-face with their students’ teachers. It’s an opportunity for parents to receive details about their students’ academic growth and ask questions on how to best support them. However, the conferences are designed in such a way that there is no capability to meet longer with parents who have students who are struggling more. Naperville North teacher John Noffke explains the time limit set for these conferences.

“We offer a five minute conference for everybody, we don’t differentiate,” Noffke said.

This time constraint then raises the question: is this really the most effective and efficient way to conduct parent teacher conferences? I believe parent teacher conferences aren’t as effective as they could be.

Not only is there a problem with the conferences when it comes to reaching the target audience, but a technical issue with logistics of attending the meetings for some families. NNHS Principal Stephanie Posey explains how navigating in-person parent teacher conferences is difficult for families who have more than one student.

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“Let’s say you have three kids. One is in elementary school, one is in junior high and one is in high school. Logistically, getting back and forth and driving physically from one site to the next is pretty prohibitive,” Posey said.

During the pandemic, the district utilized Zoom to conduct their conferences. According to Posey, the district noticed a lot more participation and a growth in signups from previous years. The district also more recently launched a new video series called InFocus in hopes of communicating with parents more. The goal of InFocus is to be easily accessible for parents to help communicate curriculum changes and how to help students who might be struggling academically and mentally. A benefit of InFocus is that parents can watch it whenever they want, completely at their convenience. Posey speaks on the Zoom conferences’ success.

“We actually had better engagement and more signups as we went remote, so as we came out of Covid,” Posey said.

It might seem like the Zoom conferences are the way to go, but there are still flaws with this method. Certain families that may need more time to talk with a teacher only get the set 5 minutes, and the families with students who don’t need to talk as much can’t sign up for a conference that takes less time. Noffke explains some of his struggles with it from a teacher’s perspective.

“The format puts restraints on working with certain families. Now, can I set it up myself and block 10 minute [conferences] off? Yes, but then I have to contact the parent and I am not capable of doing that given my other responsibilities. The teachers have a lot on their plate, they can’t take on scheduling conferences as well, it has to be done better with the software or with some of our support staff,” Noffke said.

Overall, parent teacher conferences are a difficult, but necessary resource for schools, yet there are definitely still better ways to conduct them. Whether it be more investment into InFocus or a better format for Zoom conferences, changes can still be made. Such as changing the system to better outreach to struggling students’ families and more allowance for flexibility with these conferences. Posey explains how Zoom has been effective in terms of getting more parents involved, but the question still remains if it is the best way to conduct them. 

“Yes, it’s been effective as far as getting more parents engaged. But is it the best way to do it? I’m not sure,” Posey said.

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About the Contributor
Zach Aigner
Zach Aigner, Staff Writer
Zach Aigner is a junior at Naperville North and is excited to begin his first year with The North Star. He is looking forward to exploring journalism through sports at the school and through stories about the area. In addition to The North Star, Zach also plays football for the Naperville North Huskies.  

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