There has been so much to blog about and so little time! Instead of regaling you with tales of my Zumba class (picture Saturday Night Live doing a sketch about a middle aged teacher with two left feet knocking down perky chicks with rhythm...and there you have it!), or about killing a rattle snake with my lawn mower (snake pieces really do keep wriggling for an amazingly long time), or being told that we (meaning me) cannot get walkie talkies and uniforms for our Neighborhood Watch (again), I thought I would share about my parent conferences.
It seems early, but I have found that my year goes much more smoothly when I have EARLY conferences. I have sign ups available during Back-to-School Night, and send home letters over the next few days. This was my 2nd full week with the kids, all the tests have been done, the data is available, and I like to go over homework and behavior policies one on one with parent and child. It is a great opportunity to have a relaxed chat and start off the year on a positive note.
1. First in their folder is a two-sided Language Arts Assessment and Reflection sheet. I write the cluster scores as a fraction (correct over possible) and as a percent. I have been using different versions of these for over twenty years - all the way back to my days on the training/conference circuit for Student Led Conferences.
2. Next, is their Math Assessment and Reflection.
Again, with the first conference it is better to keep it simple and sweet. At this point, the scores and goals are really just conversation starters between teacher, parent, and child. We will build on these same forms for later conferences. In addition to these forms, I share an essay and math diagnostic test.
In the first few days of school, the students wrote an essay. They were told to "impress me" with their writing skills. The prompt was three things that they wanted to accomplish this year. No organization tools were provided, so it gave me a good idea of how they organized their writing. Also, they were given a math test that was broken down by skills and approximate grade levels. It is painfully obvious to all when certain skills are missing.
4. After we discuss the data and goals, I make sure they have a copy of my parent letter. I reinforce signing the Agenda, explain what the homework looks like, and tell them that the complete syllabus is online.
It is designed as a two sided tri-fold. The complete syllabus is mandatory, but since it is over eight pages long, not many parents want it nor do they read it. This gives them the basic facts.
5. Finally, I give them a permission slip for HW Club! It sounds so much better when you add "club" to it! Right? And my Student Information sheet for them to fill out.
Out of my thirty 6th graders in my self-contained class, eighteen have scheduled conferences. Another eight students will be having their "conference" in the context of a SIT meeting (Student Study Team, Student Intervention Team???). They are the first ones of the year, and are a carry over from their elementary schools. I did not want to ask them to come to two meetings in one week, so they were given the option of just attending the SIT meeting - four of the eight have scheduled an additional conference with me. It is looking like it will be a great year!
So far, I have to say that I am having a wonderful time meeting my students and their parents. This year, I have started off each conference by thanking them for allowing me to be their child's teacher and for doing such a good job raising them. They have all visibly relaxed and smiled. The transition to middle school is scary for the parents too:)!
Hopefully I will be able to share a little bit of our Interactive Reading Logs later this weekend. I am so excited about them and eager to share what they have done so far! Happy Friday everyone!