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West Jordan Journal

Parents and teachers team up for fun

Dec 08, 2016 02:38PM ● By Jet Burnham

A team approach between parents and teachers replaces traditional parent teacher conferences.

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Majestic Elementary School is approaching parent–teacher conferences with a new program called Academic Parent Teacher Team. 

 “We hope to get parents to come and be involved and empowered and take an active role in their child’s education,” said Heather Reich, a teacher who received training from Maria Paredes, creator of the format.

 “Typically what happens at a parent–teacher conference is teachers are talking at parents,” said Yan’tu Barber, a fifth-grade teacher who helped organize the new program. “Parents want to feel empowered. Unfortunately, they don’t have the skills to help their students.” 

During the 75-minute APTT meeting, parents receive those skills. Parents meet in their child’s classroom with the teacher and discuss goals for their student. They look at scores from a pre-test the students have taken recently and determine how to help them improve. Teachers provide and demonstrate activities and games that parents can use at home to help their child progress. 

The focus of November’s meeting was math. The follow-up meetings to be held in February and May will focus on other core subjects.

Third-grade teacher Jolene Twitchell had the parents of her students take the timed subtraction test that she had given to their children.

 “She set the timer, and I panicked,” said Amy Roberts, one of the parents. “I haven’t done this for a while.” 

She thought it was a helpful exercise. 

“It’s good to sit in your kids’ seat and see how they feel,” she said.  

She believes playing the games at home will improve her daughter’s confidence. 

“The game will help with fluency, and she won’t have to panic like I did,” said Roberts. 

“It was the best conference I’ve ever had.”

Charles and Ciera Pridgen appreciated the opportunity to see how their daughter, Rylin, is doing compared to the rest of her class. 

 “It’s nice to know what they’re expecting,” said Ciera Pridgen. “We do homework but don’t know exactly what goes on in the classroom.”

Parents and teachers are now working as a team.

“The focus was on setting goals,” Charles Pridgen said. “We need to work together to achieve common goals.” 

“You’re both my teachers now,” Rylin told her parents when she heard they would be playing the games with her at home.

The games developed by the teachers are versatile. They can be adjusted to be more challenging or simple. They can even be adapted to other subjects—like spelling. 

 “She’s already excited,” said her mother as Rylin explored the bag of games provided by her teacher. Rylin had spent the evening with the other kids in the cafeteria, eating pizza, coloring pictures and watching TV while the parents and teachers met.

Ruth Hendricks was glad to get the tools to help her daughter with homework.

“I have a hard time getting her to do structured time.,” Hendricks said. “This is more like playing than sitting down to do boring homework.” 

Roberts says she is glad there was a budget available to provide these materials to families. She also appreciated being able to meet with the other parents. 

“You got see the parents of the children your kids talk about,” she said.

Reich, who teaches sixth grade, said the feedback she got from parents and teachers was positive.

“Fifteen minutes was never enough time to really focus on students and learning,” she said. “I liked having a longer time to spend with parents and work together to help their children.” 

From a teacher’s perspective, she says the time invested in developing the games and working with the parents is an improvement. In comparison to traditional parent-teacher conferences that required six hours and two nights, this program takes just one night and 1 1/2 hours and is overall more beneficial to students, parents and teachers.

Reich says teachers will still give a regular progress report to parents. 

“The report card is informative but doesn’t provide parents with the next steps to help their children,” she said. “The APTT process allows for that.”