Quotes from The Essential Conversation by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

“Beneath the polite surface of parent-teacher conferences burns a cauldron of fiery feelings made particularly difficult because everyone carefully masks them and they seem inappropriate for the occasion.”

“Parents come to school bearing the haunts of their early experiences.”

“Teachers need to recognize the complex, layered conversation and anticipate the parents’ internal, often unspoken confusion.”

“Parent-teacher conferences are highly ritualized events, and like most rituals, the form and content can become symbolic or substantive, routine or revelatory, limiting or liberating.”

“For parents, there is nothing more precious or more important than their child. They come to the meeting eager, often desperate, to hear good news about their child’s life in school.”

“Teachers worry a lot about conferences. It is the arena of their work where they often feel the most unprepared and exposed.”

“There is no better, more convincing evidence of a child’s progress, than to have him or her present and participating when parents and teachers come together.”

“Beginning with the assumption that all children have ‘special needs’ is a kind of catalyst for bringing parents and teachers together on the same side.”

“Children should be present – and given a voice – at parent-teacher conferences.”

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