How Can I Do Better? – Reflections From A Parent/Teacher Conference

November 20, 2012 — 10 Comments

Last night, we attended a parent/teacher conference for our son.  As a middle school student, Isaac also had the opportunity to participate in the conference as well.  Isaac had just finished up his first marking period of seventh grade.  He did remarkably well (proud Dad moment) achieving straight A’s.

The conferences were optional yet we decided to scheduled a meeting with his core teachers.  For Leanne and I, it was an opportunity to listen to additional feedback – to hear where Isaac is excelling and to her where Isaac could grow or improve.  Naturally, the feedback from his teachers was all great to hear.  And at the end of the conference, they provided an opportunity for us to ask questions.

Isaac asked his teachers this question, “How can I do better?

This is a pretty powerful question if you’re serious about getting a true response.  Just because we did “well” doesn’t mean we can’t get better.  I like this philosophy.  When I was in an active design engineering role at my company, I used to ask the installers and the start-up technicians these types of questions.  “How can I improve my design next time to make your installation easier or to make your start-up activities go more efficiently?”  I learned so much by asking questions like this.  As a manager now, I need to keep asking these questions.  I want to be the best manager possible to help my team succeed and to help my team members achieve their personal career targets.

Isaac’s teachers gave him some great feedback in response to his question.  They told him to speak up and to take a more active leadership role in group activities.  They encouraged him to be more creative in some of his assignments.  And they reaffirmed that he was already doing a great job.  Then the teachers turned the tables on Isaac by asking their own follow-up question, “How can we do a better job helping you?”  Isaac had to think about this question.  What a great conference to attend!  It was so neat to see students and teachers discussing ways to get better.  What an example for all of us!

And so, I’d like to ask a couple of questions.  I hope you’ll give me honest and constructive feedback.  It’s part of the STRETCHING process.  I value your feedback!

How can I better serve you – The Stretched Community?  What thoughts can you share to help me improve my writing and The Stretched Blog?  What topics would you like me to cover more often?  Less often?  What’s working well?  What’s not working so well? 

Jon Stolpe


Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • David Paul Stolpe

    Thanks Jon, I am encouraged that the teachers asked how they could do better.too often it is easy for educators to focus on what kids can do better and forget to look for what they can do better.I am often trying top get the teachers to grow and they want to, but we too often forget to ask the kids for feedback, and we need to learn to value what kids have to say. I feeling get my most useful feedback from students, but too often we can get stuck on an ivory tower.

    • Jon Stolpe

      This is true in the management world as well. It’s always important to keep our ears to the railroad tracks so we can discover the “temperature” of our team and our overall performance. What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a student?

  • Brandon Gilliland

    Great stuff! I love the posts on your blog. The content is great. One thing that might help is posting fewer quotes. The posts that you write are very good though.

    I recently created a survey for the readers on my site to give some feedback. I have been trying to improve in many ways on my site because I have decreased in page views every month. I’m trying to figure out the cause of it.

    • Jon Stolpe

      My traffic has actually been trending upward. This month is on track to be another record month. …But we can always do better. I appreciate the feedback on the quotes. I’ll watch them over the next few weeks to see if I continue them. I also appreciate the comments on the rest of my content. I may consider a survey at some point. Do you think the survey helped to clarify your direction?

      • Brandon Gilliland

        I didn’t receive too many responses, but the ones I received were helpful. I did make some changes.

  • Larry Carter

    Jon, I love your blog. I don’t always feel compelled to comment, but I almost always read.

    • Jon Stolpe

      Thanks, Larry, and right back at you. I love your blog (even though I don’t always comment).

  • TNeal

    Jon, when you address family topics, I especially find your posts helpful. This one and the Thanksgiving post both seemed to hit the right notes for me. In fact, I’ll be posting tonight and hopefully directing traffic your way based on the Thanksgiving post.

    I especially enjoy your Ice Breakers and, in reading those, I learn more about what people connect with. That is perhaps your best transferable idea for other bloggers, including me.

    • Jon Stolpe

      Thanks for the feedback, Tom. And thanks for the mention on your blog – I stopped by this morning. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • TNeal

        I enjoyed the last Friday’s Ice Breaker so I passed on the joy. Happy T Day!