Notes from the Principal's Desk: October 2, 2018

Dear School of the Cathedral Community,

As you may remember from previous Notes from the Principal Desk communications, this school year the format of teacher conference day has evolved. Rather than meeting with your child’s teacher for a brief 10-15 minute meeting regarding the child’s performance, we are transitioning to what is commonly referred to as a student-led conference. In a traditional teacher conference, parents ask how their child is performing and teachers share grades and behavioral reports. While informative, these types of meetings do not give a clear reflection of how the student is performing.

In a student-led conference, the students and the teachers work together to develop a portfolio to share during the conference. The teacher helps the students prepare to lead the conference, while the teacher acts as a facilitator. The student-led conference is the chance for a student to share his or her reflections on their academic progress, successes, and opportunities for growth. While the formats may differ slightly from kindergarten to grade eight, the idea is the same.  Students are responsible for their own learning and success.

A student’s portfolio often incorporates pieces where they have demonstrated mastery, show where they are progressing, and share areas of improvement. Teachers provide discussion starters for the students, to help them lead the conference and build their confidence. During the student-led conference, teachers act as advocates for the students. Teachers help the child plan the conference by developing talking points for what is positive, determining areas for improvement, and encouraging families to create strategies to help support student growth at home.

A parent’s role in the student-led conference is a bit different than that of a traditional teacher conference. Rather than asking the teacher about grades and behavior, parents should focus the conversation on the child and reflect on work with the child. It can be challenging for parents to listen to the student instead of asking questions to the teacher. However, by embracing the student-led conference, parents can help students learn to take responsibility for their own learning and help the child grow more confident in their abilities.

It is important to remember that learning is active, not passive. Learning is something one does, not something that happens to oneself. While adjusting to the new conference format may take time, it does allow students, teachers, and parents to become more reflective about a child’s progress. It also helps parents understand how they can help their child at home. For students, they become more aware of their strengths and challenges, which in time provides them a chance to see the relationship between their effort, progress, and quality of their work.

We believe that transitioning to this format will be an effective model to continue open communication between what happens at school and at home. If you haven’t already, be sure to mark your calendars for the student-led conference days on Thursday December 13th, from 1pm to 3pm and Friday, December 14th, from 8am to 3pm. In the coming weeks, you can anticipate receiving instructions on how to sign up for your child’s student-led conference.

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." -- Benjamin Franklin

God Bless,
Michael Wright