Next week we have parent conferences. The kids are actually out of school on Monday and Tuesday, but teachers have to be there, have to be available for conferences. Available for conferences. And we will be “available,” but few–very few–will attend. That’s how it is. That’s how it’s been. And that’s how it will be, until we find a way to better make parents partners in public education. At present, especially at the high school level, we have no such way, and while I want to point fingers and place blame, I will resist the urge, for I worry that it will open a door too wide, and I have neither the strength nor the time at this particular trail head, so I will mark it on my GPS, and visit another day. Until then, I will use what time, energy, and control I have to bring parents closer to their kids’ experiences in my classroom. And to do that, I will use our shared connection, our link. Their children.
Today, my kids are going to write letters to their parents about their learning experiences thus far in my class (see below). Importantly, I have taken their talking about grades off the table. One, grades are simply background decoration in the larger setting of learning in my classroom. Two, the parents already know their “grades.” They have access to our online grading system, and they have the midterm report cards in their hands. They know the grade, but they don’t know the story. I want them to know the story. I want them to understand what their kids are experiencing, what their kids are learning, how their kids are learning. And I want kids to tell the story. It is their story. Selfishly, I want to read this chapter, too. I want to hear their stories in greater detail. I talk to my kids a lot. I give them a voice, but I don’t always get the full story. I hope this fills that gap.
Next week, for those parents who actually show up, I will begin the conference by reading the letter to the parent. From there, we will then dig into their child’s portfolio, and I will share my own two cents, but the real story is best left told by she who is living it. No one can explain the learning better than the learner. And as I sit here and write this with the image below, I now wish I had titled this “Learner Letter” instead of “Learning Letter.” Indeed, do, reflect, do better. At least I can make that verbal change with the kids (I’ve already made copies).
In addition to sharing about their learning, I have also presented the kids with an opportunity to apply what we have been learning with writing. And my hope is that the application is even more authentic with a real audience. The kids, though I will ask them to regard this as a positive, will not love this task at the outset today, but my hope is that by the end they will be both surprised by and proud of the yarn they have spun. I am eager to read their stories, and I will share some of them with you all next week.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…write our Learner Letters.
…reflect in our Journey Journals (in observance of Thanksgiving, we have identified and discussed one thing we are thankful for each day as our entry).
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Friday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.