redsnake05: Art by Audrey Kawasaki (Up to no good)
[personal profile] redsnake05 posting in [community profile] teaching
Last night was Interview Night at my school. I was so tired when I dragged myself in the door at about 8.30pm. Talking with parents, caregivers and extended whanau can be so tiring, and often so unproductive.

In my experience, most people who come to these things are the people you don't actually need to see. It's still nice to see them and touch base about what's going on and what the students are saying about class, but, for the most part, these are kids that are already on track for achievement. However, last night I had a few meetings with students and whanau that were really good, constructive and necessary.

What's your experience of Interview Nights?

Date: 2010-03-24 09:21 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (BN shirts by oxoniensis)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
as a parent, i never miss them.

Date: 2010-03-24 09:44 pm (UTC)
velvetpage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] velvetpage
Neither do I. I try to keep far enough on top of my daughter's work and communicate via the agenda frequently enough that I spend half the interview talking shop with the teacher. :)

Date: 2010-03-24 09:43 pm (UTC)
velvetpage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] velvetpage
If I need to see them, they're nowhere to be found. The most I generally accomplish is to explain what an A means in my class to the people whose kids have a shot at seeing one.

Date: 2010-03-24 10:43 pm (UTC)
velvetpage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] velvetpage
We use standards-based too (we call the expectations but they're really standards) and we generally define excellence as meeting expectations for a higher grade than the child is in, or meeting them in a way that is particularly creative for their grade.

I like mixed-ability classes most of the time, but I can see the value in getting the particularly bright-but-bored into classes where they direct their learning to a large extent. I've got my gifted kid doing an independent project during his off-time. Anytime he's bored, he can ask me if he can work on his project, and so long as he can show me he knows what's going on, I let him. Today he was drawing diagrams of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions to go with his paragraphs about them.

Date: 2010-03-24 11:23 pm (UTC)
velvetpage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] velvetpage
In order to meet expectations in our district, you have to be able to go at least partway into the upper echelons of Bloom's Taxonomy. I can't give them a B (which is the minimum considered to have "met expectations") unless they can analyze and evaluate their own and other points of view, for example. So I give them an A when their analysis goes deeper, or when their evaluation brings in more connections than I'd anticipated, or when their synthesis poses a truly creative solution to a problem.

I teach junior, and I've found that when I strive for the top of the taxonomy consistently, I regularly find my kids produce work that is well beyond grade level in its complexity. I recently had my grade five students solving algebraic equations involving exponents and figuring out how scientific notation works, alongside proving mathematically that the product of two square numbers is always a square number. (Well, they didn't prove it conclusively, but the proved it to their own satisfaction.) I didn't learn that stuff until grade nine - but my ten-year-olds were eating it up.

Date: 2010-03-24 11:43 pm (UTC)
velvetpage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] velvetpage
A C is "approaching expectations," and if a kid is getting nothing but Cs, we're putting some interventions in place for that kid. A D is "doesn't have a clue," and means we're trying to gather enough evidence to support a more extensive IEP than we can do without psych testing.

Since we almost never hold kids back a year, the concept of pass or fail is beginning to disappear.

Date: 2010-03-24 11:27 pm (UTC)
velvetpage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] velvetpage
Also, I'm a big fan of cross-curricular learning. My math/social studies/citizenship/whatever else I can squeeze in there unit for May will be based on the book, "If the World Were a Village." Their culminating task: to pick a topic the book didn't cover but could have (for example, it doesn't touch on governments at all) and write a new page for the book, complete with doing the math to make the numbers all come out of 100. I'm really looking forward to it.

The trend in Ontario is away from subject-specific teachers for most subjects and towards classroom teachers up to grade eight. It's throwing the intermediate people for a curve but I think it's an excellent change.

Date: 2010-03-25 01:45 am (UTC)
used_songs: (Mythbusters)
From: [personal profile] used_songs
Like you, I find that generally the families that attend open house nights are the ones I rarely need to speak with. Still, I usually enjoy talking with parents.

At my previous school my academic team could never get parents to come up to the school for anything, so we started monthly spaghetti dinners. We'd provide the food, have displays of student work (including open mic readings by the kids), and make ourselves available just to chat - no pressure, no difficult discussions, etc. After a few months the lines of communication between school and parents began to get stronger and we started to see more parents at regular open house nights and other events. It was a lot of work, but it really helped.

Date: 2010-03-25 02:14 am (UTC)
used_songs: (Skull colors)
From: [personal profile] used_songs
I was just starting out as a teacher so I didn't know any better. :)

Date: 2010-03-25 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kaptainvon
That is an awesome idea - for interdisciplinary purposes as well, if (like me) you work somewhere with catering students. I think part of the problem may be that parents/guardians only tend to interact with teachers at serious things like progress reviews and graded events, which brings those Concerns closer to the surface and can lead to a "if it's going well, we've nothing to say, if it's going ill, I wish to register a complaint" paradigm. You'll have an interesting working relationship with someone you only speak to when things are going wrong (ask anyone who works in tech support). So, yeah. Spaghetti night. Social interactions between people with a vested interest, to make administering that interest smoother. I like it.

Date: 2010-03-25 07:17 am (UTC)
yaramaz: (Earfish)
From: [personal profile] yaramaz
I teach university kids, and before that I taught grown ups. I haven't had a patent-teacher meeting since I stopped teaching middle school in 2004. I do, however, really really wish I had access to the parents of quite a few of my current 1st year uni kids as, whoa, whoa they are way on the wrong track and i can't quite get it through to them how important this is.

I think that the current lack of direct parental pressure (unlike the brutally high-pressured high school years up to the uni entrance exams)is allowing them to think they can just sail through this. And maybe they could if it was a regular Chinese university program (I've heard this can be the case, that once you are in, you're good to go). However, it isn't a Chinese program. It's Australian. And a lot of people will fail and a lot of kids will get booted out for plagiarism. A lot of kids are going to waste their parents'(pricey) first year tuition fees by faffing about.

Date: 2010-03-25 09:05 am (UTC)
yaramaz: (Welcome to my world)
From: [personal profile] yaramaz
My place is not exactly flash (it's housed in a fairly dour but prestigious public university) but it is an expensive program because it is a joint venture. I think because my guys managed to get into the prestigious public uni AND their parents could cough up the dosh for the program, they have this idea that they can ace it all without trying. Quite a few (yay) are starting to realize that holy fuck, semester 2 is a bloody brute but a few still persist in their belief that fiddling with their phones and trying to sleep all class will be just fine. They aren't wild and spoiled like really rich kids I've taught-- I don't even think half of them are particularly well off (3/4 definitely went to public high schools). I'd say we have a lot of middle class parents taking out loans and second mortgages for their only children's education. I hope it's a good investment in the end. The parents have a lot to lose.


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