Student Conferences – Round 1

This week was the end of our first marking period.  Most of the time this would mean that I was frantically uploading all the last minute grades for the students and ensuring that there were comments and citizenship grades.  This time, however, was marked by me sitting down with every student in all my classes and talking about their grades and setting goals for the second marking period.

The first thing I learned while I was meeting with students is that it takes a lot longer than I predicted.  I left room for the last three days of the marking period figuring that I would take two days to get it done, but giving myself some room just in case.  What I found was that it took me approximately 5 minutes per child for my sixth graders and between 5 and 10 minutes per seventh graders.  I think this has to do with the fact that I know my seventh graders better because they were in my class last year and we have more goals to set and things to discuss.  When you multiply that out, that is a lot of time being taken up conferencing with students, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the change in students this next marking period and the conversations that happen at the end of it.

The second thing I learned was that most students were pretty honest with their level of work and effort over the course of the marking period.  I would say that the students that did the best this marking period were often the hardest on themselves.  It was a great opportunity for me to remind them of all the awesome, creative things I’ve seen from them this marking period.  I only had one or two students that were way outside the range I would have given them as a grade.  For those students I reminded them of their effort and level of work and they revamped the score they gave themselves on their own.  I was shocked at how honest my sixth and seventh graders were.

My next iteration of student conferences will include some sort of google form or written assignment that has my kids think through the process of negotiating a grade and advocating for themselves.  I think my kids have the ability to think through their growth as a student and reflect on their output for a marking period.  If I can combine this while developing their ability to argue a position about their grade for a marking period I think it is time well spent.  I also would like to have a spreadsheet with all the feedback I’ve given to the student over the course of the marking period.  Our online grade book has some great features, but one that I still would like to see is the ability to print out the comments I’ve given the students over the course of the first few weeks of school.

These are minor inconveniences when compared to the potential revolution in the teacher/student relationship.  I’m so excited by the conversations I’ll be able to have with every one of my students in a few short weeks and I’ll continue to post my thoughts and reactions to this ROLE Reversal process.

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