What matters ??

I have been preparing for student/parent/teacher conferences which will happen next Tuesday and Wednesday. One week away!  Yikes!    I have two groups of students so there are lots of individual educational plans (IEP) to write and process.

It has been a mad dash to collect all the data – numbers and numbers and more numbers. I have the Fountas and Pinnell level, the number for CBM’s, the MAP test data for this fall for both reading and math, last years state test data and the placement in Words their Way.   I was beginning to write a few short goals for each child and then stopped.

All this data but what do parents really want to know?  What can I really say about their child that will be important?   What does each parent want to hear?

I have decided to go back to what works when reviewing a project, or a piece of writing in a small group.    I have always reviewed projects and writing by using an adapted Critical Response formate  ( Critical Response was developed by Liz Lerman as a way to look critically at dance performances and has been used throughout the arts community to help review projects)  – Describe without judgement what you notice, then share positives about the project or writing, next ask what questions does it raise for you – these questions might help the writer think about their work.  Then finally share hard feedback (more detailed and specific feedback) – if the writer is comfortable.

Here is how I have adapted this process again for our parent conferences – we have only about 15 minutes with each parent since we have 58 families we are hoping conference with.

  • Describe what I notice about the child – social/emotionally how are they fitting in?
  • Share the positives – what are this child’s strengths.  What do I see the child reading and writing ( samples are good hear – a few books at the students level, an example of their in class writing)
  • Provide data in written form to take home – this can be given to parents to take home and look at when they have more time.
  • Questions and Concerns –  questions I might have as a teacher and questions they have as parents.
  • Plans for next steps – what are our goals for this school year

Short, sweet and hopefully helpful – working at getting at the heart of the matter!

I will let you know how it goes later next week.   I will miss SOL next week since we will be in the middle of evening conferences.

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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