As a beginning teacher I have had little experience when it comes to reporting on students learning and parent teacher meetings. I can say that I was fortunate enough to have sat in various parent teacher interviews on my practicums as part of my studies. Although when I think back to them, how would I describe them? Were the students involved in the process? The answer is no. Students would arrive with their parents and listen to the teacher discussing the students academic results, behaviours in class and the effort put into their learning. I think to myself, does this put the emphasis back onto the students and their learning?
Being a part of a beginning school has provided me with many amazing opportunities to share my ideas, thoughts and to voice my opinion when it comes to planning, programming, structuring of the classroom environment and students learning. These are only a few examples.
One exciting journey which St Luke’s has embarked, is in fact the changes in the way we report on students learning and how we wish to meet with parents in regards to the usual ‘parent teacher interviews.’ After many discussions and meetings, as a school we decided to follow the path of ‘student led-conferences’. You might be asking, what is a student led-conference. It is a form of parent teacher interviews although the teacher is there to support the students as they take control. This is something, which did not happen right away. There was a process that involved a lot of preparation for students and teachers.
For Early Stage 1 (ES1), my grade partner and I created a document with a few different examples relating to the 6 pillars and next to it consisted of faces. (Students have been exposed to these faces in other reflections of tasks.) As this is a very new concept for the school, especially for ES1, students were broken up into small groups and were guided through the pillar elements together. Students were asked to think back and reflect on their learning and colour in the face which best describes where they sit. (Examples provided in the pictures below.)
Students worked with teachers to find the evidence to support the coloured face and were then photocopied and placed in a folder ready to show to their parents. Some of the evidence wasn’t necessarily found in students workbooks, examples were also displayed though the ‘seesaw’ app, photographs and/or videos. After lengthy discussions, my grade partner and I have decided that we now have a better understanding of the 6 pillars and how they directly link with the curriculum we teach, next semester we will have the evidence uploaded as digital portfolios to all students files. The next step is to have students reflect and select their evidence with less guidance and support from teachers as an ongoing progress for future conferences.
At the beginning of this process if you had asked me how I thought this would work in ES1, I would respond by saying it would be a challenge. I can confirm that yes it was a challenge, but what a wonderful, exciting and purposeful challenge it was. Yes the students needed prompting and reminding of what to speak about next, but it was all the students. The students took control of their learning and discussed with parents their strengths and what they’ll be working towards next to improve their learning. I must say the students did an AMAZING job at their first ever student led-conference!
I believe this experience has helped to shape our students for the better and will only continue to assist them in growing as reflective 21st Century learners and thinkers. I look forward to the next student led-conferences in semester 2!
Definition of faces to assist with reflecting.
Self evaluation of 6 pillars.
Prompts to remind students what comes next during the student led-conference.