(Posted 11/1/20) At Sheridan, we take kids seriously — we value their insights, out-of-the-box thinking, humor, and sharp observations of the world. We also value their self-reflection and their ability to participate as leaders in their academic lives, which is why Sheridan students take active roles in conferences. The teacher-family partnership is a critical one, and it is enriched and made more effective when students are included.
The start to this school year has been the most unique in our collective experience as educators. To support our students in distance learning, and now, hybrid learning, our teachers have dedicated extra time this fall to establishing routines, protocols, and strong student-teacher relationships before moving into fall assessments. This means anecdotal evidence and assessment may be lighter for this first conference, but you will still receive informative feedback about your child’s growth, goals and differentiation as we head into late fall.
Below is an overview of the conference format for each grade level, along with tips for getting the most out of your conferences this week:
For Grades K-2, fall conferences include only parents. This allows ample time in the fall for parents and teachers to discuss student progress through pre-assessments, sample work, social-emotional observations, and support strategies. K-2 students will have an opportunity to attend spring conferences to speak and hear about their own learning.
For Grades 3-5, students attend all conferences and take on increasing responsibilities in preparing for the meetings and sharing their learning. The fall parent-teacher conference in October will be focused on sharing student academic pre-assessments, sample work, social-emotional observations, and support strategies. A mid-semester report card will be provided just prior to spring conferences in March, to ensure growth continuity. They also help frame reflection on student goals for the year.
For Grades 6-8, students attend all conferences and take on increasing responsibilities in preparing for the meetings. Mid-semester report cards are provided just prior to fall and spring conferences. They help frame reflection on student goals for the year. Expect your child to take the lead during the required advisory conference and the teachers to take the lead during optional subject-area conferences.
To help everyone get the most out of conferences this week, we offer these three suggestions:
Talk with your child ahead of time! For families in grades K-2 whose students will not be attending this time, ask what they have been working on in each class, what has been exciting and what has been challenging. Also find out what questions they would like you to ask their teachers. For families in grades 3-8, ask your child what is being prepared this week and what important topics will be coming up. Also find out which conferences they are looking forward to and if any are causing some anxiety.
Come with questions! Just because these are student-involved (and in the older grades, student-led) does not mean that parents should be observers. Some questions you might consider:
- What made you decide to share this piece of work with me?
- How do you feel when you’re asked to explain your math thinking?
- What do you think about where you sit in your classes?
- What makes you most excited about coming to school?
- How might I better help this team that’s dedicated to your learning? (You can ask student and teacher(s) this question)
- How might I better support you at home?
Make a follow-up plan! Conferences help all of us take time to reflect on student progress, but these conversations also should continue throughout the year. If you run out of time during a particular conference, ask for a time to meet again soon to speak more. If you craft an action plan for your child to address a particular challenge, put a note in your planner to email everyone in a few weeks and ask how it is going. And when you have additional questions during the year, reach out and ask.
In case you are wondering about report cards, Sheridan sends home report cards at regular intervals throughout the school year. These reports are standards-based and assess both your child’s academic achievement and work habits. In Grades K-2, families receive narratives at the end of each semester (January/June). In Grades 3-5, families receive rubric scores in January, March, and June, with narrative comments on the January and June report cards. In Grades 6-8, students receive letter grades and rubric scores in October, January, March and June, with narrative comments on the January and June report cards.