Just having read Alison’s post “Reflecting On Reporting” I have to admit that all too often we tend to become focused on assessing our students with tools and strategies that can feel overwhelming in our need to “get it right” with respect to our evaluation of the students’ progress. The fact that “a picture says a thousand words” is good reason to use pictures and video as a very valid and authentic form of assessment. What a meaningful way to share student learning with parents…
Speaking of parents, I’m beginning to prepare for the Parent-Teacher conferences next week. I have found that the preparation beforehand goes a long way to create an opportunity for a constructive and productive meeting during which time we can cover the student’s strengths, needs, next steps, and celebrate accomplishments. I do this by:
1. Sending home a pre-conference letter getting the parent(s)/guardians to share their thoughts, questions, concerns, etc. about the report card and listing possible topics/questions they hope to cover during our conference. This gives me time to gather the appropriate samples, resources, and recommendations specifically tailored to the needs of the family.
2. Using data from their report card, their Daily Journal, and conversations with me, students choose 3 goals for the following term and specify the steps they will take to achieve them along with how they will celebrate their success. Students share their goal setting plans with parents during the conference.
3. During the conference, I keep notes based on our conversation (on my computer) and by the end of the night or the following day, I send the notes in an email to the parents (in our class we communicate through email which I’ve found very helpful and parents appreciate the opportunity to get in touch with me without always having to come in or call).
It may seem like a lot of work but I’ve found that our conferences are constructive, productive, and best of all, we cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. It makes it more effective to work toward our goals when we (students, parents, and teachers) are on the same page.
Below I’ve attached the goal setting template my students use in preparation for conferences.