Recently I had a parent conference that lasted 80 minutes after school. It got so contentious at times that I was exhausted enough when it was over that I didn't do my own homework that night.
I write this post not to disparage the parent but to ask a genuine, serious question: What is the "correct" answer to the question, "How can I help my student do better in your class?"
I don't want flippant answers--yes, I know the student should do the work, not the parent, but the parents wants to know what he/she can do to help. Yes, I know the student could ask more clarifying questions in class, could see me outside of class, etc. I'm looking deeper. I want serious, reflective answers.
Here's why. I don't know what the answer is to that question, but I don't think it's the correct question. What the parent really wants to know, and only sometimes says outright, is, how can my kid do better in your class?
And the answer is simple. The student needs to get more answers right on tests and quizzes, and better demonstrate an understanding of the material on labs and projects. How the student is going to do that? I have no idea! If I knew what would cause students to get A's, they'd already be doing it and they'd all be getting A's! I don't know exactly what would cause any particular student to score one or two letter grades higher on a test. I know some generic things that couldn't hurt (mentioned those above) but there are no silver bullets. But that's what so many parents want.