MONTCLAIR, NJ - On Tues., Nov. 18, the Montclair Public Schools (MPS) presented “Navigating Parent-Teacher Conferences,” a workshop providing valuable insight and strategies to empower families to learn what they can do at home to support the work going on in the classroom thereby helping their children succeed academically.

The program was sponsored by the MPS Talent Development Office and was facilitated by Chief Talent Officer Michelle Russell, District Parent Coordinator Sylvia Bryant and Supervisor of Professional Development Natalee Bartlett.

Topics included how to connect to the teacher, addressing challenges and concerns, and ways to ask key questions about a child’s classroom behavior and academic performance.

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Attendees participated in role playing parent-teacher conference scenarios and shared ideas of what worked and what didn’t work.

“Parents had an excellent opportunity during the workshop to enact an array of topics and discuss how teachers could and should respond to important questions like ‘Does my child need help with any of his/her academics? If he does, how can I, as a parent, help my child at home?’” said Bryant. “That was certainly a powerful – and empowering – experience for our parents,  who could leave the workshop feeling prepared with important techniques and resources.”

PTA Council President Diane Anglin attended the event and said the experience was positive. “The workshop is exactly what our families need to become a part of their child’s educational experience. Teaching families helps our students and our community.”

Parent Carlos Salem-Galindo said he came away with an important tip. “The workshop was very insightful in terms of strategies that parent can use for parent teacher meetings, in particular bringing your child to the conference to empower them and or create accountability,” he said. “Also, asking the teacher to describe your child.  Empowering families will create a way for parents to know that they are much more responsible for their child’s education.”

Another parent, Barry Devone added that he found the break-out sessions to be particularly helpful.  “They really provided an excellent opportunity for parents to share their experiences about parent-teacher conferences.  The district is moving in the right direction in regards to improving parent-teacher relations.”

Brother-to Brother Director Joe Davis concurred.  “I found the workshop to be very informative and timely,” he said. “As a Montclair community partner, we support your efforts and are strong advocates of forming bridges between teachers and parents. We will continue to work together for the betterment of our school system.”

More than 30 parents attended the workshop which took place at the Pine Street Community Center.  “This was our first time using this venue,” said Bryant. “Wherever we can get the message out into the community is important to us.”

James Harris, Education Chair of the NAACP, agreed that expanding the offerings and locales is a positive step toward “encouraging parent involvement and community engagement.”

For more tips on Navigating Parent-Teacher Conferences, see the following:

Tips from the Experts: Navigating the Parent-Teacher Conferences

Printable version of the 20 Questions for Family Conferences

Workshop PowerPoint Presentation

For a list of upcoming family and community engagement workshops, click here.