Day 41 (of 189) parent-teacher meetings in the age of eportfolios
One of my favourite comments from a teacher when we evolved to using efolios was her reflection that:
a) most of the artifacts of learning that parents saw come home were paper-task focused, but
b) the efolio showed all the different things that were going on in the classroom that made the paper activity one of the least relevant examples of learning
Eportfolios show a lot more of what is going on in classrooms. And while some of the shift towards greater personalization of learning is moving at different rates and depths, there is greater acknowledgment that not all learners have to show and share their learning in the same way. This is when/why face time becomes very valuable – with conversations shifting (at least starting to shift) from “how is my kid doing compared to the rest of the class” to questions more focused on personal growth,,. And I love it when I hear comparisons being made to what they used to do and what they do now…!
Are there inconveniences? Absolutely. Lives are busy for parents and teachers alike. Sometimes parents don’t seem to want to know…some teachers wonder why we set interviews at “inconvenient times” – as both evenings and “during the day” create conflicts and interruptions. But they are worthwhile conflicts and interruptions as it enables two of the three components in descriptive feedback loops to connect. Parents and teachers both spend lots of time with the learner, but contact between the adults is sometimes tricky…which is why it is important (even for the parents who are regularly at the school already) – sometimes the conversations are just checkins and don’t get deep enough into the student learning.
In my vision, parent teachers become more important in the age of efolio use because a lot of the “what’s going on in the class” can be seen via the artifacts of learning and doing that should inhabit the folio. The key feedback on student learning can also be pointed out as a planned archivist task list:
So that the face to face time can be focused on who the child is; how they are doing with regards to key competencies and their overall personalized learning journey, all discussions which are much richer face to face than via emails.
How many of these checkins does there “have to” be? I still think that depends on your community. I would say there should always be an opportunity for parents and teachers to meet early in the year to talk about what is happening, and a chance for students to lead a session at some point in the year with the teacher nearby in case further details or discussions are needed (less about showing the work that has been done as much of that should already be in their efolios).
But for fall, I am looking forward to our evening session today and then our full daytime availability on Nov 1 (our district has mindfully picked the day after Halloween to be available for parents to come and talk about their kids). I hope everyone finds it as valuable as I have both as a classroom teacher (where I even had one PT meeting at a trucks window because that’s where I caught mom & dad who had anxiety based on their times as students….gotta meet them where they are!) and as a father, when I always appreciated the time teachers took to talk to me about how my own kids we’re doing – and I never cared about a % they had nor task completion, but how they were doing as people….and part of the larger learning community. This is the part that is very hard to show on report cards and transcripts. But makes for valuable face to face conversations!
And for me, conferences are about to begin!