26 October 2011

Parent-Teacher Conference Fun

Today was the first day of our first set of Parent-Teacher conferences for the year. At East-West we do a conference around the end of the first quarter and sometime in the third quarter, and then formal report cards at the end of each semester. The conferences are a great time to meet parents, explain a little of how things work in the classroom, and answer any questions they have. Each conference is just 15 minutes long, and I'm a little proud to say that we were only running 15 minutes late at the end of 10 conferences. Not bad going.

This year I decided to get some input from the children into the conferences. Some children attend with their parents and others don't. I'm easy either way, although I think it's really good when the kids do come. Anyway, back to the children's input. Each week on Friday we have a journal writing time. Sometimes we use the Six Thinking Hats to guide the children's writing, and other times I give them a prompt. For the conferences, they had six questions to answer.
  1. What have I done really well?
  2. What have I discovered I really need to work harder at?
  3. What is the best thing that has happened in class this year?
  4. What is the worst thing that has happened in class this year?
  5. What do I really want my parents to know about me in class?
  6. Is there anything I don’t want my parents to know about me in class? What is it? Why?
This proved to be a really interesting exercise, providing me with some useful information to inform my planning, and also providing some great material to discuss with parents. Last weekend I typed up the students' responses, and then at the bottom of the page I added a section titled "From the Teachers". In that section I have four items to comment on:
  • Strengths
  • Progress Made
  • Things to Work on
  • Something I enjoy about "student's name" ...
I then printed each student's page out, and they could take it home at the end of the conference. All the parents seemed very happy to receive this. I think it was especially useful where only one parent came, because they have a written record that they can take home and share with the other parent. Unfortunately they are only in English, but I know the children can read it even if the parents can't read the English, so they still have something to talk about at home. 

And now for something totally different! The title of this post was "Parent-Teacher Conference Fun" for a reason. During the second last conference the heavens opened, and the wind blew, and we had a huge storm. The wind was blowing so hard and it was raining so heavily that the water was literally flowing down the hallway. The water was actually flowing into my classroom, which is more than 10 metres down the hall from the open end of the building. Yes, I mean flowing into the classroom. It came 2-3 metres into the classroom. We literally paddled to the table for our last conference. In fact I did that one alone, while Mr Dy graciously attempted to keep the water from invading any further. He was scooping it out, but as fast as he scooped it out, it came back in. Eventually the rain lessened and the wind eased, and we were able to make some headway. I went home and got my mop (which is easier to squeeze out than the school mops), and headed back. By the time I left, after doing a little prep for tomorrow's lessons, the classroom floor was almost dry, except where it continued to trickle in under the door. Looks like it's going to be an early start for me finishing off the cleaning process and getting the classroom set back up again. I love rainy season!!!!

Well, having share that little adventure, I've still got 10 more conferences tomorrow and that means I have ten more sets of comments to finish off, so I'd better get on with it! Goodnight.

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