New Parent Teacher Conferences Format: What’s the Consensus?

Alexa Balodis, Staff Writer

The reality of running a school community during a global pandemic has presented numerous obstacles to allowing education to flow smoothly. The latest challenge here at Berkeley Carroll was figuring out a way to carry out parent-teacher conferences in a Zoom environment. The administration ended up deciding that students and families in the Upper school would have a completely different experience this year and actually only attend one conference. Even more unconventional, the only faculty they spoke to were their advisors—eliminating the opportunity for one-on one-conversation with academic teachers. As you can imagine, this came as a surprise to students and families alike as many began to express concern prior to the conferences.  It also put the burden of evaluating their progress on the students through a presentation, leaving many skeptical even before they occurred.

For me personally, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to hear from each of my teachers so I could figure out plans for each of my courses. However, I was excited for the opportunity to show my parents work that I was proud of throughout the term. I know that some of my peers were anxious for conferences this year, especially since many seem to be concerned that their relationships with teachers are much weaker than during in-person school and that how they were evaluated would only take into consideration what they see through the screen and not the effort nor the passion they might see in a classroom. 

But now that conferences have come and gone I have decided to interview someone on the other side of the equation. Mr. Colicchio is my advisor but also a teacher in the upper school. 

During the interview, he spoke about what a positive experience our advising conferences were, as well as the fact that there was a bit of a loss from not having the opportunity to speak to students’ families about their progress and possible areas of improvement. 

Now that conferences are over, the only question remaining is how the administration will go about them in the spring.  They recently sent out a survey to evaluate people’s experiences during parent-teacher conferences, which in my perspective was exactly the right action to take. Hopefully, when the time comes, the results will reflect the new format of conferences.