The kids are ok – AKA lighten up

One of the challenges of teaching is that progress isn’t always easy to point to when you are in the thick of lessons, meetings, extra curricula demands, writing reports.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been a bit down. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t feel like the learning in class was particularly innovative or even very interesting.

Yet when I look at learning conferences most of the kids in my class knocked it out of the park. The preparation was fairly minimal. The kids co-constructed an ideal learning portfolio.

  • Find 3 photos that represent your journey of the year from the year
  • An example of writing from the beginning of the year, and your best piece of writing.
  • Basic facts from the beginning of the year and one from later
  • A piece of maths you’re proud of.

They practiced showing their learning to a buddy and that was it.

Over the weekend I started going through the kids blogfolios checking they had their evidence, and who had broken links to content.

But I quickly stopped – who was really doing the learning?

If I went through and fixed links or reminded them specifically they were missing evidence what lesson were the children learning?

That when the stakes are high, the adult will be there to make sure everything is perfect. My actions were taking responsibility away from the children.

There is a temptation with teachers, particularly when parents are involved, to want everything perfect. To smooth over cracks and not make the child (and in turn you) look ‘bad.’

Does that lead to authentic conversations with their parents about learning?

Instead of making sure the kids were perfect – I offered them support to be the best ‘them’ that they can be. Time in class, mini-lessons, modelling and ‘come ask me questions,’

The kids who weren’t prepared – that was part of their learning. To be more organised, to check links are working, pages are published, to take opportunities to practice, to ask for help when they needed it .

This morning the class reflected on what went well during the conferences and what would have been better next time.

I noticed and named the children who had shone at conferences and how confidently they were able to share their progress . The successful kids noticed and named the importance of having evidence to show their parents and practicing with their learning buddy.

I noticed and named that when links weren’t working or evidence wasn’t there the conferences weren’t as successful as they could be.

Isn’t that the point of learning conferences – that they should lead to more learning.

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