Sunday, November 20, 2011

Starting Points

I read so many blog posts and news articles that get me thinking. They are great food for fodder and often things I want to write about. So, in an effort to keep me going (that is one of the purposes of this blog) I am going to start posting three times a week. (If you haven't noticed it has been two - SOLC on Tuesdays and another piece of writing on Fridays.) Today I will kick off my Sunday posts with thoughts on Parent / Teacher Conferences.

Kristin at Rage Against The Minivan posted this last week. She shares her seven stages of panic after she realizes her son's first grade conference is scheduled with an open block following her time slot. What does that extra time mean? I promise you will laugh!

The web is my primary form of communication with my parents from day 2 onward. I schedule all of my conferences via email and the parents don't see the actual schedule until they are at school when the times are posted on my door. I do think about the perception of those seemingly extra blocks of time. After reading Kristin's post I will be even more aware of what might be going through a parent's mind. Perhaps I will leave the name of a student listed even when I know the parents have rescheduled, just so the schedule doesn't have unexplained gaps!

Conferences themselves? I believe in communicating with parents early and often so any major challenge a student is facing I have already been in dialogue with the parents and student. (I even have taken to showing students potentially sensitive emails to their parents before hitting 'send' and asking the student if they think it is fair and accurate.) Also, I have been teaching long enough now that I don't get nervous or stressed about conferences. Plus, I only have one per year as our spring conferences are student led. On top of that, this year we are in the process of switching to a new standards based report cards. The quarter ended last Wednesday, but the report cards have yet to be finalized and won't even be ready for us to start marking until after conferences.

So what will we be talking about at conferences? I have M.A.P. (standardized test) data to share with the parents. This is our second year using M.A.P. and the first time the data is being shared with parents. There were information sessions available, but I know I will be doing quite a bit of educating about the assessment and how to interpret the data. This is just one snapshot of the child as a student. I will have other student work to share to 'fill in the picture'. Of course I will have a few minutes to address any questions or concerns the parents have and then send them on their way with something wonderful I have observed about their child.

Thank you, Kristin for helping me to keep the stages of parent panic in mind. I hope I can alleviate those feelings for the parents of my students.

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