Rolling with Changes: Parent Teacher Conferences & School Uniforms

By Stephanie Rappe — Every quarter I get a nervous knot in my stomach before Parent Teacher Conferences.

I don’t know why I continue to have this feeling when they always go smoothly.It is very rewarding to talk to the parents about their kid’s progress and see how proud some of them are of their child. It is also nice to talk with a parent about a student who is having problems because then they want to become part of the solution to redirect the student.

One large barrier at our school is that most of the parents don’t speak English, so they are unable to help their children at home. Therefore, those parents who have a child who is struggling often feel somewhat helpless. As a teacher, I also feel sort of stuck because I do all that I can during the day, but I know when they go home they are on their own.

I have become more comfortable with using a translator during my conferences. I used to feel a little awkward, but now I am able to really embrace it. It is so cool to hear them talking in their native language and then have someone tell me exactly what they said. I wish I had a translator during the day for when my students are speaking Hmong. I feel like language is sometimes a barrier between some of my students and me. There has been talk about having a Hmong paraprofessional for each classroom or grade level, and I think that would be so beneficial for our kids. It would allow them to get the clarification they need in their native language. In addition, I would feel better knowing that my ESL students heard new concepts in both English and Hmong.

The school is also preparing to institute a school uniform policy. There are so many pros and cons being discussed as we move forward. Some students are excited because they think the clothes look nice. Others are sad because they won’t be able to wear the styles and patterns that they choose. Some older students have said that the uniforms don’t allow them to express themselves, while others think that it makes the school more united and more like a family. Older students have gone on field trips to other schools to observe schools that have uniforms. The purpose of this is to allow the students to notice how it looks and gain the students’ buy in.

As a teacher, I see older students judge one another on things that they wear and I think that wearing uniforms will be a great equalizer for them. Since they will all be in a uniform there will not be an opportunity to judge one another based on what they are dressed in. Teachers have also made the point that you act how you are dressed, and if the students are dressed in blazers, collared shirts, and ties then they will act more professional and serious towards their education. It should be interesting and exciting to see whether or not the students embrace the uniforms next year.

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