Parent Teacher Interviews: What direction shall we deliver?

This week at our Learning Leadership Team meeting we had a dialogue about parent teacher interviews. Two questions were posed that struck me as interesting.
1. Do we need to schedule parent teacher interview evenings?
2. How could we do the interview differently?
Obviously these were questions to make us leaders think deeper and here are my thoughts…

These evenings have been organized as an opportunity for parents and teachers to come together and discuss student progress in a formalized setting. Parents usually arrive with the student’s most recent report card in hand expecting some sort of explanation from the teacher. With the lives of parents busier than ever, these evenings are quite possibly the first opportunity home and school has been able to connect. These discussions can range from small talk, student behavior, progress and/or lack of progress. What parents are ultimately looking for is strong evidence to back the teacher’s explanation.

So, how do we do this differently and show this strong evidence? We need a better way to share student learning with parents. We need a web based program that makes it easy for teachers to share the vast amount of learning that goes on. In this day and age, teachers should be able to easily capture and attach these nuggets of learning and place them into a web based program for parents to enjoy.

What would this look like?
A parent logs onto a website that posts these nuggets of learning where he or she could see or hear the evidence. A parent might see the following:

1. Audioboo (sound) clips of the student completing an assignment.

2. Video of the student demonstrating these nuggets (outcome, competencies)

3. Scanned document of the student’s work with the teacher comments on the assignment.

4. Video of a teacher leaving comment on the assignment. Eyejot video.

5. A scanned teacher checklist from observing the student in class.

6. A scanned copy of an exit survey from the student.

7. Visual progress on the student’s web based portfolio.

8. An area where parents could leave comments on their own student’s work.

This would clearly show parents exactly what their son or daughter is producing in school (concrete evidence). There are multiple ways that teachers can collect evidence using technology. Though, with that being said, teachers need to have the appropriate technology on hand, an awesome web based program to demonstrate the student learning through multiple avenues, the professional development as to how to properly collect specific learning evidence, and the time to place this large volume of data on a web-based program. With this type of evidence based reporting, we could then cut down on parent teacher interviews.

I think interviews would still be needed, but only on a request basis. I also think in the near future that we will report concrete evidence. But for now, until we change how we report grades, this will be tough to do without interviews.
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Idea: Change Coach or CC’s for short

As we make an educational shift in this province/country, an idea crept into my mind. The idea would be to hire Change Coaches to assist the division and school staff with change. Who am I kidding….in the educational world we would have to give these fine folks an acronym like CC for Change Coach. These CC’s would have to be an experienced master teacher with a strong background in technology. Depending on the size of a school division, one could hire three to five CC’s to collaborate together to help school staffs.

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Change is coming in Alberta Education and this paragraph will give you some of the background. Change in Alberta is guided by the Ministerial Order. This order will help with the Curriculum Redesign which is guided by the Inspiring Education document. Another initiative that will hopefully aid this process of change is the Learning and Technology Framework. As you can see, this educational shift will be a large undertaking and a school division will need to assist their staffs with these shifts.

How will CC’s help? Their overarching goal would be to help staff with the changes in education. As the curriculum goes through a redesign, the CC could help the teacher:

  • Create a new lesson/unit complete with competencies.
  • Observing and working with the teacher as they infuse new ideas into their classroom.
  • Help them build connect wthem ith a PLN.
  • Co-teach.
  • Assist and implement new technology.
  • Assist with the latest and greatest app.
  • Explore some Project Based Learning (PBL) ideas that could cover multiple competencies.
  • Reorganizing your room to help with modern learning.
  • Help a staff, parents, and students move to paperless.

CC’s could create simple instructional videos that help with the latest technology. How about instructional videos to help teachers, students, and parents with technology? After all we are in the business of educating. A great example is in Lloydminster Pubilc School division they have some tutorials for teachers and some for student/parents to help them through various tasks. Also can I make a bold point here: It does not matter if you have an experienced teacher or a new fresh teacher straight out of University, we all can use some education when it comes to technology.

Do CC’s replace the instructional leader? No! They help the leader and the entire staff try new ideas through this educational shift. I thought of this idea after thinking about change, technology, project base learning, curriculum redesign….sorry my mind is a messy place. Send me your thoughts @vatcherg I know there are more great ideas out there!