Anecdotals and Student-Teacher Conferences: Are Both Necessary?

Charles Spielfogel ’21

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Anecdotals and student-teacher conferences have been a long-standing tradition at Ramaz. This year, with conferences weeks before anecdotal release, the question arises: do the students need both anecdotals and conferences, or is one mode of student-teacher communication sufficient to ensure positive learning and development? 

For the general student body, student-teacher conferences generally serve one of two functions: either a person uses them to see how they can improve in a class, or a person will rush through the lines, hurrying to finish as soon as possible. According to many students and faculty, the first way is, of course, the more efficient way to maximize your time with the teacher. Though they are mandatory, many students wonder why we have student-teacher conferences if a student can set up a meeting with a teacher whenever he or she likes during the school year. 

Students have mixed responses about the prospect of both student-teacher conferences and anecdotal reports. Isaac Silverman ’21 said, “We need to have both because in anecdotal reports you find out what you can improve on, but in conferences you are able to have an expanded conversation about your likes and dislikes of the class.” Often in student-teacher conferences, the teacher will ask for your honest opinion of the teaching style and the class itself, even how the teacher can improve. On the other hand, many students feel that student-teacher conferences are a waste of a day, with many students spending more time waiting on the lines then actually meeting with their teachers. In Lauren Lepor ’21’s opinion, the students “only need anecdotals. If you need to meet with a teacher you can meet with them on your own time, and the entire day does not need to be wasted waiting on lines.” If it is necessary to have both, then perhaps it would be better to reverse the order, as Talia Halass ’21 commented, “I think we should be given anecdotals before we have our student-teacher conferences so that we are more prepared for the meetings.” In addition, the conferences can be much more efficient: by creating online sign-up sheets and assigning times for meetings, students would not have to wait in lines all day, and perhaps even be more excited for this notoriously dreadful day. 

Access to anecdotals before conferences will bolster the efficiency of the student-teacher conference process. Students assume that receiving anecdotals will be a summary of what they discussed with their teacher, but this is, in fact, not the case. Ms. Rahimzada explained, “I believe that both student-teacher conferences and anecdotals are useful; anecdotals come after student-teacher conferences, so if there is something specific that the teacher and student spoke about that needs improvement on the students part, the student has the chance to improve it…the time anecdotals come around, student improvement can be included in that anecdotal based on the conversation that took place during student-teacher conferences.” For many teachers, having anecdotal reports as a follow up to student-teacher conferences is helpful. If a student has changed the way they approach a class based on the feedback from the conference then the anecdotal report becomes a confirmation that the student has used that conference to improve. It is beneficial for a student to get that feedback in writing.

Although there are many pros and cons to having both student-teacher conferences and anecdotals, it seems that having both makes the most sense in the long run. Each serves a different purpose and there are definitely benefits to both students and teachers of having both regardless of which order they fall in. Teacher feedback at this point in the school year is critical to making the most out of the rest of the year.