Parent teacher conferences still valuable tool at Hinsdale Central
Brian and Muffy O'Donnell of Clarendon Hills attend a conference Friday at Hinsdale Central with math teacher Cindy Baker. The O'Donnell's twins, Mac and Sean, are sophomores at Central. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:12AM
HINSDALE — Parent-teacher conferences are available to any interested parent for only the cost of their time.
Hinsdale Central had nearly 8,900 total requests for conferences with individual teachers, held Nov. 1-2. That’s up from 8,300 in 2011 and 7,500 in 2010, said Bill Walsh, assistant principal for operations.
“Parents generally ask to have conferences with all of their children’s teachers, although they don’t have to see all of them,” Walsh said.
Most students take six or seven classes each semester, which explains why the 8,900 total conference requests is far more than the school’s enrollment of 2,830.
Walsh said the conferences are valuable because they help create a team environment that is most beneficial to students.
“It helps to have the teachers, students and parents working together on the same page,” he said.
The seven-minute time limit per conference may sound very short; however, teachers are available outside of conferences if parents want to talk further, Walsh said.
Central math teacher Greg Hill said while still a valuable tool, conferences they are not as critical as they were in the past.
“We keep in touch much more frequently with email, and parents can stay informed about the progress of their child through Home Access Center,” Hill said.
Margaret and Gregory Spitzer use that portal website to keep track of the scores and grades their daughter gets on projects and tests. So when they go to their conference, they concentrate on what they can do to help her, said Margaret Spitzer. Maybe she needs help with her math proofs, or maybe a French tutor would improve her French grammar, Spitzer said.
Still, Hill said there’s no replacement for a face-to-face conference.
“If a student is excelling in a class, the conference may focus on what lies ahead in the course and how the student can stay on top of the game,” he said. “If a student is struggling, the conference may shed some light on why.”
Several parents praised the teachers at Central.
“The teachers here are great,” Gregory Spitzer said. “They meet with the students about anything they are struggling with.”
Tom Haleas agreed.
“I’m very impressed with them. They’re energetic. For the most part, they are younger and they’re bright and . . . happy to be here,” Tom Haleas said.