In the part 2 of the Back to School Planning guide, we will understand how teachers, students and parents can partner together to set achievable Goals and run effective Parent Teacher conferences.
Goal setting in a classroom context is one of the HITS (High Impact Teaching Strategy) that we have highlighted in a previous post. Setting and communicating clear lesson goals help students to understand what is required and what is the success criteria. This should set a culture of realistic but high expectations and also ensure that students of varying degrees of abilities can achieve them.
Some tips on how that can be achieved:
1) Look at the Data: Look at all of the results of the students latest classroom assignments and tests. To understand areas of improvement , you can review either manual report cards of previous years or in case your school uses technology platforms which collect students' data, view the more comprehensive digital records. Technology platforms like EdSense, have features such as 360° Student profile which collects various parameters (psychometry, academics, health, nutrition, family situation) and presents actionable data for teachers. Sit with each child individually and present the data to them and show them how they compare with the average student and the expectations of them. This is an essential step for students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses in order to create personal goals for themselves.
2) Guide the students: Based on the data, assist the students in performing a self assessment. This self assessment in initial weeks will set the foundation to effective goal setting. After the self assessment exercise, introduce them to various Goal setting techniques such as SMART goals (Specific , Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). Ensure that they do not set more than 2-3 goals.
A sample goal could be like:
3) Teach how to create plan: Once the goals have been set and agreed upon, work with them to create a plan for achieving those goals. Guide them in defining a strategy for each goal. Where required, provide inputs , tools or strategies based on your own experience.
4) Goal Tracking system: Create a goal tracking system to help them accomplish their goals. As we personalize learning, we need to personalize goal setting and tracking as well. Work with students to develop a tracking system based on each child's preference. It could be a manual, paper based system or a digital system. It could be done weekly, monthly or the end of each term. Share this with the parents during Parent Teacher meetings, so that they can aid their wards in reaching for their goals.
5) Celebrate Student Successes: The most crucial step is celebrating success of the students' accomplishments. Some ways of celebrating success could be - pizza party of the entire class reaches a specific goal , homework passes, small stationery items, a certificate , a hand-written note that they can show at home, hanging the goal tracking chart in classroom with stars for each goal reached and others.
The goal setting process should be personalized for each student and remember that as a teacher you are just the guide/mentor. The Goal setting process encourages students to make their own decisions and take ownership of their own learning.
How to run an effective Parent Teacher Meeting?
Successful parent-teacher conferences require thoughtful preparation. The goal in conferences is to make allies of parents in the ongoing task of teaching students effectively. If parents understand your goals and support them, then together you are creating a healthy learning environment for the child. This is a two-way interaction and requires preparation by both the teacher and the parent. Some tips on how to run an effective parent teacher conference:
Before the meeting
- Send out communication regarding all PTM dates and slots well in advance so that the parents can plan ahead. Ask the parents to select a time slot either as a diary note or phone or through an online PTM planner.
- Decide on an agenda before hand and send it to the parents prior to the meeting. Include topics like general impression of the child, test scores, teaching strategies , showcase of child's work etc.
- Gather all relevant information about the child, including your notes on the social interactions and concerns. Ensure that you have proper facts before you present the data to the parents.
- Right attitude: Ensure that you go to the meeting with an open mind and listen to the parents concerns and address them fairly. The end goal is to involve the parents on the journey to ensure a successful school year for the child.
- Talk to your child and ask how he's doing in class, what's going on during lunchtime, recess, and when he goes to special classes like music or sports. Find out both the positive and negative. If you don't like what you're hearing, look into it further. Talk to other parents to see if their children are expressing similar concerns. Understand whether your child is perceiving everything accurately or if he's misunderstanding a situation.
- Understand the agenda of the meeting and be prepared with your notes and concerns that you want to raise with the teacher.
During the meeting
- Make the conference area as comfortable as possible. Arrange the chairs in a way which is conducive to a healthy face to face discussion.
- Stick to the agenda and walk through various items. Showcase the child's work and help parents understand the strategies and techniques you use for the class.
- Try and understand any changes in the child's personal or home life especially if it seems to be impacting the child's learning outcomes.
- Share the Goal Tracking with the parents so that they can support the child achieve those goals.
- Schedule enough time for questions and discussion.
- Enter with the right attitude: A Parent teacher conference is a great opportunity to get a one-one interaction with your child's teacher. It is an effective way to gain the perspective of a trained professional who spends an enormous amount of time with your child. The teacher is a more objective evaluator of your child than as a parent you can be. Go with an attitude to learn a bit more of your child and raise any concerns respectfully.
- Not just about results: The parent-teacher meeting is not just discussing about your child's academic results, but also about social and physical development. Use this interaction to let the educator know of any changes that the child is facing at home or personal life.
- Communication channel: Understand how the teacher would like to communicate apart from quarterly parent-teacher meetings and diary notes. Reinforce that you are a partner with the teacher in your child's learning and you would like to have an open communication channel with the teacher year around. Being involved with the teacher will also help in tackling issues such as bullying or isolation in a more effective way.
After the meeting
- Take note of any action items and add them to the agenda for the next PTM. Set goals together for the child's progress.
- Reinforce to parents that you are open to communication and would like to partner with them for the child's successful development.
- Take note of any action items from your side - it could be extra attention to a particular academic area or addressing a social behavior issue.
- After the meeting, discuss with your child about the positive things that teacher mentioned and then talk about the concerns and how they can be tackled. Explain how you can all work together to ensure your child has a successful year.