Conferences have always represented a moment to emphasize the importance of the relationship that must exist between learners, teachers, and parents. Most importantly, I have always regarded these occasions as an opportunity to, collaboratively, move away from practices that destroy the learning spirit of a child; from ideas that cause us to lose a learner; from generalized agreements / assumptions of what causes false expectations, and causes us to ignore that children and all of us, for that matter, are not the same people we were in the last conference. Reflection is transformational and visualizing its impact should be the goal of all conferences.
Clearly, I love talking about learning and achievements, and about learning targets. Nonetheless, my favorite part of conferences is the human, socio-emotional aspect, because..
It’s important to remind parents that:
- their children are kind.
- their children arrive at school with a smile on their faces
- words such as thank you, please, and would you mind, among others, are part of their everyday language.
- their children can be the best kind of communicators as they exercise active listening.
- their children see their peers as equal and support they wholeheartedly.
- their children are brave when they take chances to explore learning opportunities that some find indomitable.
- their children have a voice that makes others turn around and hear them.
- their children constantly look for different ways of doing things.
- learning with their children give us moments to reflect on what it means to learn for life.
- all processes are learning opportunities for us teachers as well.
Most importantly, I feel, these occasions are important because parents need to be given a stimulus to extend the dialogue at home, to deepen the inquiry, and to make home feel like an extension of school: a safe space where the way one perceives the world matters; and where there is room for different perspectives.
In this past conferences at QAIS, not only was I impressed by how eloquently my MYP2 (grade 7) students spoke about their learning process, and explained to their parents how they perceive their growth. Needless to say, seeing the stories that were born in parents’ eyes as their witnessed how their children talk about learning was my biggest take away.
Las week, as I spoke to parents and students, I was happy to see how my advisees, their children, helped me sent their parents home knowing they had found a side of their children they may or may not have thought they’d lost or didn’t know existed.