Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent/Teacher Conferences are always a tough time. The ones you desperately want to see so rarely show up, and the idea of holding conferences in the middle of the day has never sat well with me. It's difficult for parents to take off work and come see us, so why have a specific day set aside where no teaching gets done and only those parents with freedom during the day can come see us? We do stay until the evening (8pm) on one day, but it still feels like a false set-up to me.
That aside, I do like some recent changes our school has made. The most superficial of the changes was the re-naming of the "Parent/Teacher Conferences" to "Student Learning Conferences." We are trying to shift the focus from "these are the grades your teacher is giving you" to "these are the grades your student is earning." This has not sat well with some of our parents. Recently, teaching has become a very defensive business, a place where parent influence and insistence are sometimes weighed more than the experience and training of the teacher. One of the ways to combat the "why did you give my child this grade" syndrome is to change the conversation entirely. We've changed it to "how, exactly, did your child earn this grade--what can be done to improve it and facilitate their learning."