Virtual parent-teacher conferences get positive reception

Angela Colombo, Of The Talon staff

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect in-person sessions, Rockwood chose to continue with an online meeting format and utilized their virtual resources to conduct parent-teacher conferences this semester on Sept. 24.

Reactions to the new conferencing format were mixed; however, it seems that a majority of them were positive. Choir teacher Angela Rice said that she enjoyed the online format and would vouch to continue with virtual conferences in the future.

“I really liked online conferences. I could look ahead to prepare ahead of time. Most parents just need to check-in, but if a student is struggling it was nice to be able to pull more information ahead of time that could be shared. I would completely vote for online conferencing in the future,” Rice said.

Social Studies teacher MaryJo Bauer had similar sentiments. Bauer said that she felt more prepared for conferencing with parents and that the efficiency of online conferencing was more suitable than that of in-person.

“I felt more prepared knowing in advance who was coming and I think this is a much more efficient way of handling conferences and would prefer it for the future. It saves parents a ton of time rather than sitting in line outside a classroom. I found the quality of the conference much better,” Bauer said.

Jennifer Hale, mother of junior Emma Hale, said that she also preferred the online format as it provided a more organized approach and allowed for quicker conferencing.

“I preferred online because it was streamlined. There was no waiting for teachers and it was very easy and organized. There were no long lines and no walking around the school for hours,” Hale said. 

The overall process of online conferencing was similar to that of class Zoom meetings. Hale said that parents were provided with sign up sheets for conference times and Zoom links to meet teachers at their designated time.

“The principal sent out an email with a link to a document that listed all the teachers. You clicked on the teacher you wanted and were taken to a Google Form where you could sign up for that teacher’s individual times. On the night of you could go back to the original link and find the Zoom links for the call,” Hale said.

Technical difficulties throughout the online conferencing were limited with parents and teachers experiencing only minor complications. Bauer said that even though the difficulties were small, she hopes it gave parents an insight into the struggles that their students face with online learning.

“The only technical difficulties I had was with one family not being able to turn on their volume so we ended up Face-timing on our cell phones instead. I liked that parents got to see that using technology isn’t all that easy, hopefully giving them some insight into the many difficulties of virtual teaching and learning,” Bauer said.

And while Zoom was able to meet the needs for conferencing, Rice said that she missed the opportunity to be able to meet with parents and families of past students.

“The only thing I didn’t like was not getting those pop-in parents who are just coming by to say “hi.”  I teach many of my students for four years, so I get to know many parents and families really well.  A lot of my regular conferences are parents dropping in to catch up on ‘life’ in general, and I missed that on Zoom,” Rice said.