Update - June 7th
@Lara Schmidt contributes:
As part of our learning and teaching we stop for meta-cognitive breaks to check in with our students thinking, processes and mindsets. Students use age-appropriate means to make thinking visible.
- images to represent roadblocks, connections and wonderings
- videoing an interview with a partner
These will make a good resource when looking back on the learning journey and preparing for the conference.
Update - Version 2.0 - May 30th
I haven't had anyone to collaborate with on this as yet and would love some input to get this to the next level. Please comment!
Learning is a journey, not an end point. Seeing it this way, with all the roadblocks, pitfalls and challenges, along with all the connections and perspectives, gives us a full and rich picture.
Potential for impact
It's possible, in these brief times we get to discuss a student at the conference, to come to a deep understanding of them as a learner. The structure given by their journey gives opportunities to gain insights into how the student thinks, reasons, overcomes setbacks, and connects their learning. Isn't this what we truly want to know about a students - it's so much more than a grade. When we know a student well we can discover how to support them in succeeding at school. Joint constructions of goals when you know the student deeply as a learner leads to powerful change.
Let's see the student as a learner. Let the student share their progress and all the highs and lows along the way. Let's gain insights into how they think and their mindsets. Let the student feel heard and understood. Let's keep the student and their learning at the centre of the conversation.
Look deeply into the student's learning journey and gain perspective on how they tackle challenges, deal with uncomfortable feelings while learning, what strategies they use to get help, how they build understanding and make a difference with their knowledge. These are skills and understandings they will use throughout their schooling, in the workplace and in life. Here's an opportunity to support their growth into the person you hope they'll be.
Have the conversations you always wish you had time for. Get straight into a profound discussion about the student and their learning, and develop a plan to move them forward.
- Before the conference, students choose one Learning Journey to focus on during the conference. Good choices might have
- several pieces of work that show development
- evidence of how thinking has changed
- evidence of mistakes or setbacks
- big picture learning e.g. perspective taking, connecting to other learning or outside the classroom, use of patterns or generalisations, making a difference in the community or globally.
- Students fill out the Learning Journey proforma. Key words are recorded. Class time might be given so that connections and support can be given by peers and teachers.
- During the conference, students talk their family through their learning journey using their notes. They share the story of their learning, elaborate, give evidence using work samples, and answer questions from their family and teacher/s.
- Students jointly construct goals based on points raised during the conversation about where they might grow and move forward. Families and teachers question and support the building of the goals.
- After the conference, all parties receive a copy of the Learning Journey, work samples and goals.
- Class time may be given to deconstruct the goal/s and create achievable steps. Review time to reflect on the progress of the goal may be needed at a later date.
Prompts you may consider:
- How my thinking has changed...
- I connect this learning to...
- I found out about myself as a learner...
- I felt stuck when...
- My biggest challenge...
- My roadblock...
- Something or someone that helped...
- Things I tried...
- My strengths...
- The heart of this learning is...
- One viewpoint is...
- My evidence is...
- A pattern or generalisation I noticed is...
- One possibility is...
- I'd like to try...
- I'm wondering...
- Where to next...
Guiding Questions (during the conference)
- What do you notice?
- What insights into your child's thinking do you see?
- What questions does this raise for you?
- Where might we work together to build your child's learning?
Jointly constructing goals - Ideas to consider
- Learning dispositions and behaviours
- Growth mindset
- Connecting with other learning
- Bringing the learning to others
- Making a difference
Portfolios are a popular idea in student-parent-teacher conferences, as many here have acknowledged.
Students have shared learning portfolios or work books with their families in previous conference I've held. We often find one party getting off track, flipping through the myriad of learning examples provided, or getting caught up on a basic fluency task that doesn't show much scope. It's only 15 minutes, so every moment is valuable.
Instead, students might prepare for the conference by preparing a learning journey on just one learning concept. The journey will be their journey as a learner and where they're headed. Considering where their thinking has changed, where they got stuck, what mistakes they made, connections they made, and what they found out about themselves. They can choose one piece of learning (physical) to share. This way they can then stick with one piece of learning, or concept, and still share valuable insights about themselves as a learner with their family.
Rather than a script, students might prepare by recording some ideas using prompts e.g. I felt stuck when... When at the conference the planning sheet can be used to kickstart the conversation. A natural conversation will allow family members to jump in with insights and questions.
To finish, families could work with their student on where they're headed next, based on the conversation had. This could be around learning disposition or behaviours, growth mindset, thinking, connecting with other learning or how to bring the learning to the wider world or to make a difference.
I'd like to refine the sentence starters/ prompts and develop a proforma to jointly construct goals.