Fort Dodge Community School District

District Blog: Making the Most of Conferences

November 2, 2015

by: Mark Johnson, FDMS Assistant Principal

It is hard to believe that the first grading period is here for our middle school students and just around a near corner for our elementary and high school students.  As our mindset about education changes and the experiences that our students are having in the classroom room are moving toward student centered classrooms, our parent-teacher conference experiences need to evolve as well. While we all know and understand the importance of a quantitatively calculated letter grade at the end of grading periods, often times the “grade” paralyzes the more important conversation of student learning.

As the terms come to a close and conference are in the near future here are some things to think about as you have conferences with your child’s teacher(s):

  • The point of a conference is not to display a student’s current averaged grade, missing assignments, or ways to “make” a certain grade. The point is to provide a structured environment for conversations about student learning. A parent leaving a conference with only a list of grades is time wasted.

  • Conferences are an avenue to create and strengthen communication between school and home. This communication should develop into a two-way structure in which the teacher hears about what the student’s strengths and likes  are at home as a child and the parent gets a picture of what the child’s strengths and likes are as a learner at school. Exchange stories about experiences that have occurred with the student.

  • Keep an open mind and respect all viewpoints. Remember that if there are differences as to where the truth lies, most often it’s somewhere in the middle.

  • Most parents come to conferences to learn about those who are spending quality time with their child. Before the conference ends, solidify the method in which the teacher and parent are going to keep in touch so that communication can continue with ease.

Prior to attending conferences, doing your “homework” can lead to deeper and more valuable conversations. This homework is looking at your student’s current grades and any missing work in Infinite Campus. Knowing these things ahead of time allows you to move past listening to a report and into dialogue about learning.

To access Infinite Campus, go to, click on the Parents tab at the top, then Infinite Campus Portal. If you have difficulty getting logged in, please contact Diane Jass at the Central Office by calling 574-5363.

We’ll see you at conferences!

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