This year marks the return of parent-teacher conferences to Nantucket High School. On December 5th, students were given the opportunity to lead a conference with their parents and advisors to discuss their performance and progress throughout the year. This is the first time that conferences of this fashion have been held in the high school, as the parent-teacher style of conferences was abandoned four years ago.
Families started appearing at school at 12:50 in the afternoon, following an early release at noon. All grades were required to participate, as the purpose of the meetings was for students to have a chance to showcase what they were doing well in class, and reflect on how they can improve their accomplishments. Those who didn’t participate during the half day will have to present to their adviser in the coming weeks. This also allowed for students to display their work, strong or not, to their parents and advisor first hand, as opposed the parent-teacher conference style of parents talking about their student’s progress directly with each of the student’s seven teachers.
“We are currently going through a NEASC accreditation process, and part of that process requires us to come up with a vision of a graduate”, stated Vice Principal Jennifer Psaradelis, “So as a faculty we’ve been working this year on what we want our graduates to have and possess when they leave here. So in coming up with this ‘Vision Of A Graduate’ is some way for these students to show that they’ve acquired these characteristics, whether that be creativity, communication, or collaboration.”
While the conferences were well intentioned, many students, especially upperclassmen, felt that involving their parents and themselves was unnecessary. Some felt that it was unreasonable to have a meeting with their advisors, as it was likely that their advisors were less aware of their grades than their parents, and therefore wouldn’t have any reasonable input. Others felt that it was unnecessary for parents and advisors to analyze their grades, and were not looking forward to possible backlash and a need to defend their grades.
“I want to seperate my home life from my school life,” stated senior Mookie Richards.
However, some students who did participate had a different outlook. Senior Tristram Ravenscroft observed that the conferences were “Good practice to open up the dialogue between the teachers and parents, and I liked that it was not that rigid and didn’t have that many guidelines. It was a good first opportunity to do that.”
Meanwhile, sophomore Grace Hood relayed that she liked it because it helped her “communicate with my mom more and helped her understand how I feel about certain things in school.”
Furthermore, a reasonable number of teachers were quick to see the benefit. Not only do these new conferences promote family engagement, they also further involve an advisor in their student’s academic career. Mr.Farrell, a high school history and psychology teacher, stood in support of the conferences. “Providing students, teachers and parents/guardians with the chance to meet with a smaller number of students for a greater amount of time seems like a great idea to me in theory.”
More support came from senior James Taaffe, who noted that “the kids that were doing the conferences were the kids who didn’t necessarily need it as much as the kids that didn’t want to sign up for it.”
While the parent-teacher conferences have not taken place in a while, the school will be continuing these conferences in the years to come, taking into consideration feedback from students and faculty alike in order to make the process as productive and effective as possible.
By Maeve Cawley