This is a post that I have had planned for YEARS but never actually wrote. I was planning on writing it during the 4th week of March, 2020. And we all remember how that went down...
Here is the plan that I used for nearly every caregiver conference after I jumped into an acquisition-driven, comprehension-based framework (and started using Somos), and it made conferences more of a pleasure than a pain. *Usually.*
A quick word about my context:
- Expected to be available to meet for 10 minutes with every student's caregivers, 2x a year, October and March.
- About 85% of families and caregivers chose to meet with me.
- *Not* student-led. In fact, caregivers were told that students were not welcome.
- Middle school.
- Our conferences were *not* about grades. We were explicitly told to focus on other things- if grades came up we could address them but teachers were not supposed to bring up Little Johnny's grades and talk about them to use up our 10 minutes.
- We had marathon sessions of conferences- like 4-5 hours straight, and they went until after my bedtime. They were so exhausting that I had to figure out how to make them very formulaic so that I didn't make terrible mistakes. (Like that time I told a caregiver that the kiddo was doing great, no concerns, and she emailed me the next morning saying "then why does she have a D in your class?" That was just plain exhaustion.)
Week 1, Beginning of the Year
- Assign a the Syllabus homework to students and caregivers
- Location: Available as a free download, Somos 1, Unit 1
- Pro tip: use different colored paper for different sections- easier to file later!
- Collect and actually read them as they came back, and follow up as needed/make notes of information.
- File those very valuable pieces of paper in files with student names (or have them file them for me!).
September, Beginning of the Year
- Follow up with any students/caregivers who didn't turn it in. I need this before Fall Conferences!
- Bulletin Board prep:
- These are located in the hallway where caregivers wait, and are *very* valuable in sharing information passively with all school stakeholders!
- Proficiency Descriptions Bulletin board, created with students. Read about that and see some photos here: Teaching about Proficiency Levels
- Start to create the Reading Board to be ready by conferences. (This is a post that is coming soon...once I find the pictures! You can get a sense of what they look like at the start of the "Classroom Video Tour" Fun Club Episode. starting at 9:56-11:30 or so.)
October, Fall Conferences
- 2-3 chairs of different sizes (so that different bodies and preferences felt welcomed!)
- My list of conferences/attendees
- Tub of student materials
- Copy of the syllabus with proficiency levels on them, for each level.
- Digital clock to keep us on time!
- I would go over their version of the syllabus homework,
- show them a work sample (usually from the interactive-ish notebook),
- share whether I had any concerns about them progressing or anything else,
- Finally answer their questions.
- ask your student about Spanish class,
- ask your student to read something from our Canvas page or their notebook and tell you about
- read something with them from one of those sources.
Mid February, prepping for Spring Conferences
- Student Self-reflections (2 pages) Subscriber library / Administrative Items: CC Subscriber Library / Student Self-reflection form
- Reading form: (to be added!)
- Tubs of portfolios and notebooks
- Digital Clock
- Syllabus for each level with proficiency descriptors.