Parent-teacher conference is an effective way of building additional cooperation and understanding between home and school (Calatrello, 1961). Involving families in their children’s education does not only facilitate the academic success of the children, it also predicts social and emotional development, and a variety of other positive school outcomes for all children. Individual meeting with parents prevent or diminish “problems of attendance, discipline and drop out” and foster closer home-school affinity (Kroth & Edge, 2007 p. 7). Parent-teacher conference as a resultant benefit to the child for a long time has been recognized worldwide. However, it is a novelty for some of Kazakhstani private schools. NurOrda International School (NIS), where I used to work, can serve as a perfect example of employing parent-teacher conferences as a tool to endorse the relationship and co-operation between home and school.
NurOrda International School pursues the modern trends in education and offers a balanced and integrated curriculum which meets each student’s diverse learning needs. The curriculum integrates the elements of the national curriculum and Cambridge International Program (http://www.nurorda.kz). Providing detailed feedback on students’ performance is crucial in the learning process. In this regard, NIS affords parents with a unique opportunity to talk to each teacher who teaches their child during termly meetings. These talks are conducted in a one-to-one situation, enabling the parent to receive a scrupulous analysis of his/her child’s performance in a private manner (NIS Parent and Student Handbook, 2014). Parent-teacher conferences are fitted to the school program and scheduled at the weekends due to parents’ workload. These meetings, usually only fifteen or twenty minutes in length, do not resolve all the problems of each child; but “may illuminate the source of problem” (Calatrello, 1961, p.259), and can provide an opportunity for the parent to communicate with the teacher in privacy than that afforded by Soviet legacy – traditional patents’ meeting. The aim of the conference is to establish harmonious rapport with the parents and to involve families in their children’s education. The school staff seeks for reducing achievement gaps and enhancing the academic achievement of all students. Signification of the unity and cooperation among school staff, parents and students is also reflected in the logo of NurOrda (“Shanyrak”).
At the conference, each teacher has all materials needed for the meeting and prepared agenda at hand which make his/her work easier to proceed. Teachers take enough time to listen to the parents and encourage them to bring up questions and comments. After the conference, the teacher should pass along the salient points to the principal and to other school personnel, if needed. Occasionally teachers of NurOrda school deal with hostile or aggressive parents. They respond to such aggressions keeping cool, listening, writing down what the other person says, and eliciting suggestions to eliminate the concerns trying not to become defensive.
To sum up, parent-teacher conferences conducted in NurOrda assert positive associations between parent involvement in the school and academic achievement, as well as character building and mentoring. It is important for public schools to actively seek and increase trenchant forms of parental involvement.
Calatrello, R. L. (1961). Parent-teacher conference. Peabody Journal of Education, 38(5), 259-264.
Kroth, R. L. and Edge, D. (2007). Parent-teacher conference. Focus on Exceptional Children, 40(2), 1-8.
NIS Parent and Student Handbook for 2014-2015. (2014). Retrieved February 26, 2015 from <https://www.tes.co.uk/jobs/Upload/Attachments/TES/04923E0001/PARENT%20AND%20STUDENT%20HANDBOOK%202014-2015%20[ENG].pdf>