By J1 Reporter Jill Williamson
If a Marian student was told that she would be forced to practically FaceTime her teacher with her parents alongside her a year ago, she would most likely tell you that an idea like that sounds crazy! However, with 2020 being the year of the pandemic, this became a reality with the parent-teacher conferences held a few weeks ago.
Due to obvious reasons, it would not be the smartest idea for one or two parents per student to come into contact with each of their daughter’s teachers. To prevent the spread of the COVID-19, Marian administrators made the safe and smart decision to rethink parent-teacher conferences as a whole this year.
An email was sent out to all Marian parents on Oct. 8, explaining that conferences would be held over Zoom in an effort to keep the rate of COVID-19 cases as low as possible within the school building. While this seemed like a perfect idea on the surface, it came along with some compromises. Due to the conferences being held over Zoom, there was a limited number of 8-minute time slots. The conferences were spread out over a period of two days- Oct. 14 from 1 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Oct. 15 from 1:30 – 4 p.m.
Due to the timing issue, it was highly recommended that parents first sign up to talk to a teacher only if their daughter had a C or below in a class. This way, it was ensured that all parents who had questions or concerns about their daughter’s grade would get first priority and had the opportunity to get everything cleared up. From Oct. 11-13, parents could then sign up for any remaining time slots to talk to the teachers whose class their daughter has a B or above in. Once parents signed up, a link to get into the conference via Zoom was sent out to them in an email.
In order to make conferences as efficient as possible, teachers tried to stay within a 5-7 minute time range. During this time, teachers talked to Marian parents about their daughter’s performance spanning over the first quarter of school this year. “Conferences actually went a lot better than I expected them to go. There were definitely pros and cons, but overall it ran very smoothly,” French teacher Mrs. Janet Tuttle said. She said she thinks that the process to sign up for conferences was done in a very efficient and user friendly manner. Because of this, Mrs. Tuttle ran into no problems with parents joining the Zoom at their designated time slot. She was able to successfully communicate all the same information to parents that she would have if they were sitting face-to-face.
In a lot of classes, many daughters showed up on the Zoom call to talk to their teachers with their parents. “Honestly, it just felt strange to Zoom with both my parents and teachers at once, but the conferences themselves went well,” senior Bella Bortolotti said. Teachers said that they were able to have some good conversations with students and were able to offer many of them helpful tips to excel in their class. However, many said that they missed how much more personal the conversation feels when conferences are held in person.
Teachers were not the only ones who liked the Zoom conferences- parents said they were a hit as well! Junior Lily Mausbach’s mom, Heidi Mausbach, said “Conferences went really well. The process to schedule an appointment was really easy and I liked how quick they went.” By doing the conferences online, the time of both teachers and parents was saved. Despite some of the cons that came with doing parent-teacher conferences over Zoom this year, many Marian teachers and parents said that they would consider the experience a success.