WJON reporter Jim Maurice recently posted an item in which Sauk Rapids-Rice Superintendent Brad Bergstrom wondered whether or not parent/teacher conferences were necessary in this age of technology.

We've seen an evolution in terms of grades being available for families and students to see 24/7.  When I first started teaching 35 years ago, grades were in a red book that nobody saw other than the teacher, so conferences were really about parents and students having a better idea of where they were at with their grades and how things are going in the classroom.

I am a parent of two really little kids, one five years old and one just three months old. However, I have already found the parent/teacher conferences at my older son's school to be invaluable.

Bergstrom's comments about being able to see grades online really misses the mark for me, personally. While our son is 'graded' on a scale of 1-4 when it comes to certain milestones and skills at school, I have found that those numbers are the last thing we talk about at conferences.

We talk about my son's social skills and ask how he is interacting with the other kids. We find out about some of the funny things he has said and we work together to fix the things that he could be doing better. It's an important way for the parents to get a little more insight into their kid's teacher and for the teacher to maybe learn a little more about their student and their home life.

Maybe when it comes to high school the conferences become less necessary but I strongly believe parents and teachers need that open session during elementary school and even junior high school, which can be brutal for kids.

In general, I think parents and teachers need more communication than ever when it comes to their kids' progress in school. There are more peer pressures in today's world than any past generation and it is imperative that teachers and parents present a united front to guarantee the best chance for our kids to succeed as adults.

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