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New fall conference format a success
Parents, students, and staff report positive results in October parent conferences
November 05, 2012
When fall conferences came around at Crook County High School, the staff and administration decided to think outside the box and change their model from the status quo.
“In the past, our conference time involved hours of us sitting in the commons waiting for parents to come,” explained CCHS social studies instructor Heather Wiles. “A lot of the time, we would have hours go by without any parents, and we (staff and administration) felt like that was not a good use of our time.”
She said that a committee was formed and they brainstormed some ideas. The result was a complete change from the conference format in the past. Students who were earning a “D” or less in any class were required to come to school on the two scheduled conference days, and students who had kept their grades at a “C” or above were not required to come to school. The staff conducted classes on a modified schedule. The buses ran their schedule and the cooks provided breakfast and lunch like usual. Parent conferences were conducted in the evenings after 4 p.m.
Kim Crofcheck, a Spanish instructor at CCHS, commented that the regular parent conferences that were held in the evenings were well-attended. She said that the format was a motivator for many students to get their grades up above a “D,” so that they wouldn’t have to attend school on those days.
“For students who had missed school, needed to make up work due to school related events, sports, or illness, the feedback from the students was that it was a positive time for them to come in to get additional, uninterrupted help for an hour-and-a half time,” said Crofcheck. “I actually heard from two students that ‘It was nice to not have a classroom full of students who already understood what was going on, where I could ask questions and feel comfortable about doing it.’”
She said that in the beginning, when they were planning the event, teachers were concerned about the potential reaction from students.
“When all was said and done, the halls were full of students, and the majority of them were excited when they were finished, because they had time to make up their work and they had time to get extra help.”
Crofcheck was also on the committee to set up the model of conferences, and she was adamant that because they had everyone on board — including administration, school board, bus drivers, and cooks — the outcome was a good one, and things flowed really well.
“Surprisingly, a positive outcome for everybody,” added Crofcheck.
Crook County High School Principal Rocky Miner said that he offered an incentive for students who only had a low grade in a class or two to get excused by parents for the other periods, and they could just come for those classes.
“I was really surprised and pleased at the number of students who said how helpful it was,” remarked Miner.
“The turnout in my classes was really high, and everyone was positive,” said Wiles of the participation at conferences. “They were thankful to get the time to work on their things and get the extra help that they needed.”
She added that every one of the students that came in raised their grade, and it even motivated students who weren’t passing.
“It made them feel invested in their future and their grades and not discouraged by a mid-term that is now over and they can’t do anything about it,” she added.
CCHS senior Colby Hammell, a Calculus student, had to come in one day because he was getting less than a “C” in his class.
“It was a good incentive for kids who are already doing good,” said Hammell. “If you weren’t or you were struggling in a class, it gave you the opportunity to get the help you needed or to turn in the much-needed work.”
He said that by giving students the extra time, they could get their work caught up. He also thought it was a good use of time.
“I really appreciated it.”
In spite of some parents commenting that their first knowledge of the change came earlier in the week of conferences, Miner said that parents were first notified via a parent newsletter the first of October. An announcement was made Oct. 3 via the school intercom, and the following week during Connections class. Another letter was sent home on Oct. 5 to parents. A phone dialer message was left on Monday evening before conferences for parents of students who had a “D” or an “F.”
“I was failing three classes at one point,” said sophomore Brooke Dyer, who was also required to come both days. “I came in and did all my work and got my grades up to “Bs,” “Cs,” and “As. It benefited a lot.”
She noted that she heard some comments from other students that they liked the fact that they could hang out with their friends in the commons or small gym when they weren’t making up work in another class.
“It was nice actually working one-on-one with the teachers — it was something different,” said Dyer.
She explained that this was one of the biggest benefits.
Tammy Dalton, a parent of a junior at CCHS, exclaimed that she thought the new conference model was fantastic.
“It really gave the kids a lot of quality time to get that extra help they need,” she said. “I got some really good feedback from a lot of the teachers.”
“My daughter took advantage of it, and I thought it was wonderful,” indicated Dalton. “It made a difference in every single one of her classes that she attended. I hope they continue this model.”
Jaclyn Cossitt has three students in high school — a freshman, sophomore, and a junior.
“I absolutely loved it,” exclaimed Cossitt.
She said that other parents that she has talked to had a good impression of the event.
“I think it’s a great program for those kids who are kind of struggling a little bit, and gives them that extra boost,” added Cossitt.