Student-Led Parent-Teacher Conferences


Reposted from Edudemic:

Parent-teacher conferences provide parents with updates on their child’s progress and opportunities to see their student’s work. They also open communication between school and home. However, students often are passive, or even absent, during traditional parent-teacher conferences. One way to fix this is to put students at the helm, as they are the ones who are responsible for their work and progress. Here, we detail a few ways to hold effective student-led conferences and we offer a guide for each conference participant.

In the student-led conference format, students and teachers prepare together, and then students lead the conference while teachers facilitate. “The triad then sits together to review and discuss the work and the student’s progress. The message, once again, is that the students are responsible for their own success.” Student-led conference models vary, but the premise is the same: “This is the student’s moment to share his or her reflections on achievements and challenges.”

According to Gus Goodwin, a teacher featured in the book, “Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century” (which in turn was quoted in this excellent MindShift article) is quoted as saying that parents appreciate student-led conferences as an alternative because they realize report cards are not useful, “and over time, the parents begin to set a higher bar for their students at these conferences.”

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“Parent Power” Measured by Center for Education Reform


Reposted from Education News:

The Center for Education Reform (CER) has revealed its annual Education Report Card for states’ school systems measuring the autonomy and influence of parents on the education system. The Parent Power Index (PPI) evaluates and ranks states based on qualitative and proven state education policies. The higher the state’s grade, the more parents are given access and information about learning choices that can deliver successful educational outcomes for their children.

Only six states earned ratings above 80% in the area of allowing parents central power over their child’s education. A median score of 67.4% for Delaware shows what a poor job most states have done in increasing charter schools, allowing school choice through vouchers or tax credits, teaching quality, transparency, and online learning — the five main components that make up the state PPI scores. A ranking of 20 for Mississippi earned the honor of being the state that has made the most progress, moving up 21 positions and making it into the top 20 states after being in the bottom 11 states on previous ranking analyses.

Parent Power can be closely connected to whether a state’s governor is pro-reform or not. Although a governor’s stand on education is not directly factored into the state’s PPI, having a governor or candidate who is pro-reform will allow the state to have policies in place that will result in greater Parent Power.  There are 36 gubernatorial races this November, making this a time for enacting parent-empowering policies.

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View the Parent Power Index here.

An Open Letter To My Son’s Second Grade Teacher


Reposted from Education Rethink:

“I’m realizing that the diversity in experience is a part of how a child grows. So far my son has had to cope with different rules and expectations and systems than we have at home. That’s a part of learning. That’s a part of growing up. I know, I know. Kids are supposed to pursue their passions and run with their questions and all of that. However,  one of the best parts of school so far is that my son has learned that he won’t always have his way in education.

Furthermore, I don’t expect you to be perfect. I don’t expect you to get it right every time. You will have thirty kids who are all different. However, truth be known, my kid isn’t always an angel when I’m at home. People say kids are naturally good, but I swear they would have launched nuclear weapons at each other when the three of my kids realized there was only one Popsicle left.

I guess what I’m saying is that I believe we live in a broken world. Systems are broken. Relationships are broken. But somehow beauty breaks through, because there are teachers like you who choose to love thirty strangers and help them grow into critical thinkers. That’s pretty amazing to me. So, I’m not going to tell you how you should run your classroom. This letter is mostly just a heads-up ahead of time to say, “Thanks for what you do everyday.” It’s pretty amazing.”

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The Shift in Parent-School Engagement


Reposted from Roots of Action:

“Instead of a closed, self-sufficient system, schools must see themselves as open systems that engage in learning at the boundaries between families and communities. Peter Senge (2000) said it well, “If I had one wish for all our institutions, and the institution called school in particular, it is that we dedicate ourselves to allowing them to be what they would naturally become, which is human communities, not machines. Living beings who continually ask the questions: Why am I here? What is going on in my world? How might I and we best contribute?”

When we think of schools as learning communities, parents and teachers have the capacity to shift the machine metaphor from the grassroots upward. This is the type of change than cannot be mandated from the top-down or through policies like No Child Left Behind.  In fact, research shows that partnerships based on relationships, connectedness, and flexibility hold the keys to understanding how to increase student learning and motivation.

What does this paradigm shift mean to families and schools?  While parents and teachers have unique skills and expertise, no one is a single expert. We are all learners. We come together for the shared goal of educating the whole child. In many ways, we are what Etienne Wenger (2002) calls communities of practice, “groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their understanding and knowledge of this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.” What brings families and schools together is a passion for children and education.”

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