End of Year Conferences


I have been at school for about 12 hours a day for the past week, engaging in end-of-year conferences.  At our school, we have the children lead the final conference. They review their portfolio, talk about how they have grown, reflect on the year.

It takes a long time to have a conference like this! Some of them last over an hour.  It’s fairly exhausting, because the kids are only eleven years old, and they need a good amount of prompting to be truly reflective.

It’s my favorite time of the year.  Want to know why?

Its because this is my chance to hear the children as they validate everything that I know to be true as a good teacher.

As we review the portfolios, and go over math tests and history essays and creative stories and science labs, the children talk about what they have learned.   I get to hear them echo back the important things that I have taught them.

And guess what?

Not a single child mentions the word “rubric” or the word “standard” or the word “rigor”.  They rarely mention any facts.  But here are some true quotes that I have heard in the last four days.  I promise, I am not editing.  These words are engraved on my heart; they have renewed me so that I can come back for another year in September.

“In math, I’ve learned that its OK when I don’t understand. If I could always get the answers right on the first try, then I wouldn’t really be learning anything.”

“I like that you taught us to think about history.  I’m going to be more careful about how I vote when I grow up, because you told us that we are the history of the future.”   (If I said that, I was far less eloquent than this little girl; still, she got my message!)

“At first, I didn’t ever raise my hand unless I was really sure, but now I know that good students make guesses.”

“I learned to ask questions. If I have a question, there are probably five other kids who have the same question!”

“I learned that science is fascinating, and I never knew that!”

“You told us that it’s more important to be kind than to be popular, but I think if you’re kind, then you are popular.”

“At the beginning of the year, I only had my few friends.  But now I have branched out and everyone in our class is friendly.”

All I can do is sit there and feel my heart swell.

And on an even more powerful note, the parents haven’t asked about class standing, grades, test scores or the rigor of the curriculum. Instead, they have thanked me for understanding their child, for seeing the positives, for being a fun and happy teacher.  Parents have hugged me, have shaken my hand, have told me that this is was a “wonderful year.”

I know that I’m bragging.  I know it, you’re right, its obnoxious.

But here’s the thing:

All of the conversations are showing me that I am RIGHT to put my energy and emphasis on social and intellectual growth and NOT on testing, scoring, measuring, collecting data and imposing false “rigor” on my lessons.  My administrator may not be thrilled with my old fashioned ways, but my kids are.

#evaluate that!

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by 2old2tch on May 30, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I read the kids comments with tears in my eyes. There is nothing old fashion about your classroom ways. Keep it up.

    Reply

  2. My 4th grade daughter led the parent-teacher conference earlier this year, and I was thoroughly impressed by her and her teacher! I have first-year college students who would not have been able to be as eloquent and self-reflective—perhaps because they did not have dedicated elementary school teachers like you. I wish you a wonderful summer to relax and renew!

    Reply

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