At HaMesivta, the students are invited and encouraged to come along with their parents to PTA so that they can be encouraged, involved and, when needed, held accountable for their academic progress.
Parent Teacher Conferences have long been a moment in time when the parents can meet, albeit very briefly, with their children’s teachers to hear updates on their child’s progress and address certain issues that may have come up.
The parent then comes home and either tells their child how proud they are of them due to all of the wonderful things that the teacher said about them, or how disappointed they are by the negative review of their behavior that they received. This often leads to a ‘he said, she said’ conversation where both the student and the teacher maintain that the parents are not hearing the entire story.
Rabbi Leiblich, the Menahel of HaMesivta, realized that the system needed to be changed. “For the matters that are really important and warrant an extended, more serious discussion, the 5 minute conference is an insufficient medium. We recommend that the parents set up a meeting, either in person or over the phone, at a different date when they can discuss the matter at hand in a less pressured way.”
He then came up with the idea to have the students present at the conference. “You can only win,” he claims, “If there is only positive feedback to share, let the student hear their teacher’s compliments in front of their parents. It can do wonders to their self esteem and confidence. If there is an issue that needs to be dealt with, it is the perfect opportunity to deal with it all together!”
“Bringing my son with me to the parent – teacher conference has been an extremely transformational experience,” one mother related. “He left beaming, with a massive smile on his face, knowing that his Rebbe and parents were so proud of him and his achievements.”
The response to this initiative has been overwhelming and positive, a sign that student participation in the conversation is necessary and the way forward.
To make PTA even more meaningful, parents at HaMesivta were given a short presentation where they had an opportunity to meet all the teachers and learn more about the school culture and philosophy.
This method represents HaMesivta’s approach to chinuch. By involving the student in the process and respecting their maturity and individuality, the students rise up, take responsibility for their education, and invest themselves in their studies to produce tremendous results.