Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parent Conferences

Parent-Teacher Conferences: each one is different, depending upon both the child and the adults present. Some students had grandmothers present, others moms, dads and even an aunt. It was interesting to see how the students' families concerns compared and contrasted with that of my mentor teacher and I.

Most of the time I was on the same page with my mentor teacher in what I felt were the students' strengths and weaknesses. Or, as one of my mentors' put it: How the student glows and grows. The grows being areas that could use improvement, and the glows being areas that the student shines in. I value the importance placed on the glowing areas of each student. Even though there are students who struggle everyday with behaving properly (an aspect that often snowballs into the academic areas), there is something that he/she is doing wonderfully. The parents need to know this. Without this communication, the parent sees the teacher as the bearer of bad news-no child or parent wants to come to conferences and hear only how badly the student is doing.

Some things I saw that I really liked that my mentors did were the environment. Both of my mentors had a table set up outside of the classroom with candies on it and books (one was a book of the students working, while the other were just books pulled from the classroom library). Either way, the value of literature is apparent from the moment the families walk into the building. The candy is just a comfort issue. Both of my mentors also held the conferences at tables large enough for 2-5 adults and a child (although 5 would be tight, should there have been a need, there were seats available). This was accommodating to all, especially the families in which mom and dad are divorced and both step parents are also involved in the child's life. Although during the conferences I attended, this was not the case, wouldn't it be wonderful if it were?

One thing that was interesting that I did not expect, was for me to be able to read my mentor teachers so well. I suppose working with them helps with that. I could tell the conferences that they were slightly hesitant about, nervous about, or ecstatic to tell the families how well the students were doing. There were only three families out of nearly twenty conferences that did not show. While this was disappointing, both of my mentors assured me that this was a typical occurrence, and I should not expect each family to come at the designated time, as that rarely happens. But, life is what it is. I know some of the families are single family homes, in which the parent works multiple jobs. It would be hard to schedule conferences with that hectic of a schedule.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have seen firsthand this week how much preparation goes into Parent-Teacher Conferences. I have been giving the children various assessments and copying the scores for parents, for their files, for the teacher, and one more 'just in case'. Everything from how many sight words do the students know to mathematics facts to behavior and social skills in the classroom needed documented, if it was not already done.

Tonight is round one of Parent teacher Conferences. I am curious to see exactly what they look like and how it will feel to be a part of them. Not that I have a large role, as this is my first encounter with them, but it will still be interesting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kids and Their Comments

Just wanted to share some of the joys of working with first grade children. One is that they are blatantly honest. If I forget to ask a question during morning opening, they tell me.

They don't mean it in a rude manner, they are just so routine based that it throws them off to have one question out of place. In my three weeks working with first graders I have had kids hitting each other, name calling, and poking each other with scissors, all very interesting experiences. I have also had some adorable moments. Today I recorded some of the things my 6 and 7 year old's said:

(right after fall decorations were put up) "We have a new student, it's a pumpkin"

"My mommy is about to get married. She is still finding a guy, though."

(comment to me concerning his page where he was writing his numbers to 100) "The numbers were counting just fine and now they are jumping all over the place. Miss Speerly, what is wrong?"

Student 1: Are fairies real?
Student 2: No
Student 1: God used fairies to make nature.
Student 2: You don't know that for real, you still have to learn it.
Student 1: Some people never seen fairies, so they don't know. Why did I see pixie dust when I was playing outside?
Student 2: I don't think it was a fairy, they only like nighttime.

They say the funniest things :)