Parent-teacher revolution
Gone are the old days of the formal interview

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 12/97) - An experience that many parents and teachers used to dread is becoming a lot more palatable.

Some teachers now come armed with a busload of Timbits. Others with writing portfolios, student's journals and homework assignments.

And this shift away from the old parent-teacher, head-on interview and toward report card conferencing includes direct students participation.

Ecole St. Joseph school principal Leah Von Hagen says some students don't just participate, they actually lead the conference set goals for themselves.

It's a North American trend that began about three years ago. Parents are demanding more accountability from schools in the United States because of educational reform. Canada is undergoing the same process, said Von Hagen.

"In the old days, the focus was on marks. Now it's social interactions and looking at the whole child."

Anecdotal report cards containing written assessments rather than "marks" are part of that new focus. At St. Joe's, primary students in grades 1 to 3 receive those while students in grades 4 to 8 receive letter grades and narrative report cards.

"We just don't want to see people whose children are having trouble," said Von Hagen.

Before this new philosophy was adopted, the trend was for only those students and parents who had concerns to show up for meetings.

Since the change, parental attendance has been steadily increasing at these meetings and a similar approach is being taken or looked at by other city schools, said Von Hagen.