Family conferences have always been exciting for me as a teacher, to share the fun activities, the goals and get to know my students' families a little bit better. I know from the parent perspective going into a conference can feel a little unnerving. I’ve put together a list that will help guide you in questions that are key to your child’s learning this school year.

Once you have scheduled your time and planned to bring your student’s teacher their favorite coffee drink (because who doesn’t love a small treat to say thank you?) take a look at my thoughts about digital learning in your students classroom. Here are my top questions to ask in your conferences this year concerning technology use in your student’s classroom.

What programs and applications do you use and recommend?

I love this question for two reasons: First, typically districts and states have programs that they invest in and mandate teachers use them. The second reason is that teachers have a great feel for the real quality and value of programs they want to use in their classroom. Most teachers have researched and collaborated with other educators as well as worked on the specific class they lead that year to find a program to target the classes specific needs. Mandated programs don’t always do that.

How are assignments given?

Responses to this question will vary with the age of your specific student. When I ask how assignments are given, teachers should be mixing up how we allow students to show their knowledge. If you’ve read any of my previous articles you know I am a HUGE proponent of allowing students to use assistive technology as needed. I would also be waryif all assignments are digital or if they’re all paper. Using a variety of ways to measure and allow students to share what they have learned is most inclusive of all our students. I would also ask if students are given options if they would like to work independently or with partners.

Do you allow or encourage the use of technology to help students with their learning?

Hearing the teacher’s response here is more than just finding out the answer for your student. Asking this question to a teacher who may not have known about the many wonderful tools and apps to help students may end uphelping a whole population of students. This question opens communication lines to learn what tools the teacher may utilize in their classroom. You may even learn something new that helps your child be their best.

Do you provide hands-on or digital and collaborative learning?

Many classrooms use digital resources for students to learn and read from. Having this discussion about using hands-on and collaborative learning takes using digital resources a step further. Using hands-on and collaborative learning is highly motivating and allows the students to have ownership and direction over their learning. An example of collaborative learning could be students in the classroom working on a document to present together or students across grade levels working together on a project or students in different states or counties working on a project together.

Making sure that you have these questions during your parent teacher conferences will help to open up communication about learning through technology. Becoming global citizens happens through lots of practice and opportunities to learn digitally and collaborate with others. Our classrooms are the epicenter of where students should be able to practice in a safe and supportive environment. Make sure to stay in touch with your student’s teacher about any questions or concerns that may arise. I can assure you, they are excited to partner with you to make it the best year possible.

About Jessi:

Jessica Stallings MA Ed. is a veteran teacher and tech writer. She is a National Board-Certified Educator who values teaching the whole child and enjoys working with learners of all ages. Her favorite thing as an educator is to watch how technology motivates all different types of learners of varying ability levels. She hopes to empower learners and families to use technology to help connect them to and learn more about the beautiful world we live in. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she loves to spend time on the North Carolina Coast with her family and dog, Fletcher.

  • This is a good collection of  questions for the conference.  However, in many school districts that I know of, such technology matters aren't left up to the individual teachers.  Rather, such decisions are made on a district wide level.

  • Not a bribe, just an act of kindness. 

  • Thank you for the comment Peter. I believe in most classes it's a mixture of learning to address the many learning styles. In my classroom I mix between whole group, collaborative learning both with and without technology and individual learning on technology. It really should be a balance. 

  • Such a concern right? There are many programs coming out that monitor student use and ever evolving programs that help to block these. It's a difficult balance for sure. 

  • Hey there Jeffery, I totally agree with you, district rules often override individual classroom teacher rules or preferences, often times parents or the general public see it as the teacher, when really it comes from the top of a district down.