2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Giving Students Voice in Parent-Teacher Dialogues

Traditional parent-teacher conferences are evolving into three-way dialogues that include students, too.  Lucy Calkins, director of the College's Reading and Writing Project, believes that this enables children to become part of the critical conversations about their own schooling and learning.  "If you advocate for this, you're talking about something much bigger than including a third person in a conference," she stated.  "You're talking about an education that helps kids take control of their own destiny. You're talking about kids becoming more intentional as learners. That's a beautiful thing."

For example, Calkins said that pre-conference planning helps students examine their work objectively.  "This is a deeper kind of learning," she offered.  However, the author of Raising Life Long Learners: A Parent's Guide still cautioned that these conversations be carefully executed. "Schools can't plop kids into the middle of a conference and expect it to work. This takes thoughtfulness and preparation," she said.

The article, entitled "A New Twist on the Parent-Teacher Conference," appeared in the October 7 edition of The Boston Globe.

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