Conference time — don't take it for granted
As election news fades into the background, it reminds us to be grateful for the freedom to vote for our elected leaders, a right many are still fighting for in the Middle East and one we take for granted.
As the power is restored to the East Coast, we give thanks for being able to flip a switch for lights, fill our gas tank and heat our homes, activities we take for granted.
As the celebration of Veterans Day passes for another year, we’re determined not to take for granted their sacrifices, but we do. The busy routine of life engulfs us and we forget the simple act of gratitude which elevates any situation.
My Marine brother’s optimism in the face of his double amputation makes me realize how much I take walking for granted. Fixating on feelings that drag us down negates the fluid nature of the mind. Out of necessity, physically handicapped veterans demonstrate the ability to flow into a new frame of reference, which is nothing short of inspiring. We’re reminded that the power of the brain to overcome should not be taken for granted.
Don’t take for granted that your child is doing fine in school. Continue to show interest in what they’re learning and how they’re doing. Make it a priority to meet with your child’s teacher and hear firsthand both what they do well and where your assistance would be helpful.
Elementary teachers received the results from the first round of benchmark tests in math and English language arts. Minimum days this week have been set aside for parent conferences to discuss these results and how that reflects on student progress on the report cards.
Conferences offer a fresh perspective where parents get to see their child through the eyes of the teacher, and he or she learns more about the home environment. Conversation often starts with, “What is your child saying about school? How is homework going?”
I encourage kids to “fess up” when they “mess up” both at school and at home. Knowing the real story can better help correct potential problem situations. For example, when reading comprehension is low, an easier book can be assigned, or some new comprehension strategies taught.
When a student reveals that the book simply wasn’t read, then what’s needed is more effort on their part. Often times, parent involvement in the reading helps motivate completion. Parents can trade off reading every other paragraph which helps the child hear oral fluency, vocal variances and increases comprehension when decoding isn’t the focus.
Seeking solutions that facilitate children’s success at school is best as a shared process with input from all the involved parties. Having students present at conference time with their parents allows the teacher to brag to them. Student help in devising an improvement plan makes them more likely to own the process.
This three-way conference with parent, child and teacher present allows an opportunity to individually acknowledge the student’s progress and they often bask in this attention.
While the standards that were recently tested on the benchmark exams have provided a uniformity of coverage and a way to assess student mastery and teacher compliance, the new common core is more concerned about process rather than the discrete skills.
As we transition into these new common core standards, more effort will be placed on preparing students for these complex performance tasks. Tasks involve analyzing an article, then viewing an online video about it. Notes are taken from both sources, and then students type a paper in one sitting. Keyboarding skills will play a critical role in their ability to show what they know.
Don’t take for granted that your child is where they should be on the path to mastery. Conference with their teacher and find out the rest of the story.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long-time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.