The Rampage

How to Fix Student-Teacher Conferences

Josephine Schizer '20

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Walking into school on the day of student-teacher conferences, one can see students crowding the hallways in long lines or clumps, talking to each other or on their phones, impatiently waiting for teachers to be ready to meet with them. Waiting times on lines to meet with teachers vary drastically depending on the teacher – students can be waiting on line for up to an hour or for as little as five minutes. Students generally only talk to the teacher for a minute or two.

Student-teacher conferences are a built-in time to find out how one is doing in his or her classes and to ask any questions one may have. This opportunity for one-on-one discussion is helpful for both students and teachers who usually do not have time within their busy schedules to have personal conversations.

However, I think that there are a few things we could change in order to make student-teacher conferences a more effective use of students’ and teachers’ time and also less chaotic. There are two main problems with the current system. First, the long lines create a pressured and rushed atmosphere where it is hard to have a real conversation with teachers. Second, and relatedly, many students jump the lines by having friends hold their spots in multiple lines at once, exacerbating the first problem. I want to suggest two possible ways to alleviate this problem.

First, having fewer students in the building at a time would make the lines shorter and remove some of the pressure from teachers who teach students in multiple grades. This goal could be accomplished by having conferences on a full school day instead of a Friday and having each grade come in approximately two-hour shifts. The hallways would be less crowded, so it would be easier for everyone to get from place to place. The experience would be more pleasant and less rushed for both students and teachers, allowing more complete conversations with less hassle.

A second solution, which works either alone or in conjunction with the first solution, is to use sign up sheets. Since, in practice, people are already holding spots in multiple lines at once (by having friends save their spots), it makes sense to allow everyone to engage in this process in a logical and fair way. Students could sign up to meet with their teachers, either at the door of each classroom or online in advance, and know based on the list when their turn will come. This system would enable the conferences to run in a more orderly fashion with less wasted time and would make the day even more productive.

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The student newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School