Celebrate: Student-Parent Conferences

Every weekend I land here for reflection. Thank you, Ruth, for the space to meet with others and share.  We need to take the time to stop and notice the good. It’s always there even when things aren’t just right yet. Click here to read more celebrations.

celebrate link up

I deal with little humans. Little in stature and little in experience. They are new to the game. Their “newness” is a gift and a challenge.  That’s why parenting and teaching are the best and hardest jobs.

This week was all about conferring with students and parents. Together. Two parents, often a sibling or two, flanking the child. I’m there with my partner teacher. All eyes on this little person.

Some students revel in the spotlight. Ready and willing to share all they have done and all they plan to do.

Other students worry. Their eyes downcast.

We, teachers and parents, want the best for the child in front of us.

Sitting in the teacher’s seat, I am grateful for being a part of a child’s learning life. A year has been handed to me. I’m honored.

Parents love their child with every inch of their being. They worry. The love and worry manifests in many ways. Are they on grade level?  What does my child need to work on? What can we do?

I start by asking, “How’s the year going?”

Students share.  Some without hesitation.  Others with one-word answers. “Good.”

Then, “Say more about that.”

If we listen, we hear some answers.

Me: What are your reading goals?

T: To track the problems and how the character deals with them.

Me: How have you have done that? Maybe share a read aloud story.

T goes on to discuss Yard Sale by Eve Bunting. He recounts the problem: they have to sell everything because they are moving to a small apartment. How the character handled this: at first she was upset, and then she understood.

Me: So why do you think the family had to move out of the house to the small apartment.

T: Hmmm. Maybe because they need to go to a nicer neighborhood?

Me: Maybe. Or maybe…

T: Hmmm. Maybe… I’m not sure.

Me: Why might someone move from something big with lots of stuff to something small with less?

T: (Long pause.) I don’t know.

Me: Could it be something to do with money?

T: Oh yeah, maybe taxes got too high. Or maybe someone lost a job.

Me: Maybe. The author didn’t tell us, did she. She’s asking us to figure it out on our own. Sometimes we need to take what the writer gives us and fill the holes they leave with our understanding of the world. When we do that, we interpret the story, and it becomes ours.

All the while parents are listening.

Me: When we work on filling the holes the author leaves us, it’s called inferring.

I look at the parents. “Does that help?”

They nod.

The good news, he’s growing, and we know what to work on. The better news, you’ll be there to see it.

That’s the beauty of parenting and teaching.

This week I celebrate the gift of students, parents and teachers who give time to listen and learn together.

7 thoughts on “Celebrate: Student-Parent Conferences

  1. Such a poetic celebration of conferences. Making thinking visible allows the parents see what actually happens during reading. Parents don’t necessarily know how much goes on in the head of the growing reader.

  2. Thanks for giving us a peek at the parent student conference model. We don’t do this. But I am thinking about how I can involve my students more in setting goals for their IEP.

  3. Love being a “fly on the walk” during your conference. A few years ago I had student and parent conferences and loved it. I may suggest we try that at our school. It seems silly to have the student sitting outside while the adults talk inside. You are doing great work!

  4. Julieanne, I love that you showed (vs. told) parents what the student was doing as a reader. I also really love the idea that inferring is making a text our own. It actually reminds me of QAR (which I love–oldie but goodie)–but with a very poetic twist. Thank you!

  5. I have had conferences with both child and parent. However, never in a way that shares any of the reality of the actual learning like you demonstrated. That must be so enlightening to the parents, both about their child and about how dedicated the teacher is. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Having the students present and interact with the teacher and their parents is so powerful, & you’ve described it beautifully, Julianne. I’m glad that you enjoyed this student’s interaction and shared it too!

  7. Thanks for letting us sit in on a conference. I appreciated the reminder that we will be there to see the growth. No matter how far they have to go, we are privileged to watch them along their journey.

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