Notes from the Principal's Desk: October 23, 2018

Yesterday, the school faculty, school staff, and parish staff came together to conduct ALICE training. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. This training is part of our emergency operations plan and helps us to prepare and plan to proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. ALICE training provides an options-based tactics approach that gives agency to students, teachers and staff to make decisions that will greatly increase their safety and odds of survival during a critical incident. ALICE training is now an accepted response to violent incidents in which schools previously might have only used a traditional “lockdown only” approach.

In the coming weeks teachers will begin preparing students to practice drills, including how to participate in an enhanced lockdown and evacuation to rally points after leaving the building. 
  • K-2: Kindergarten through second grade teachers will read the book I’m Not Scared...I’m Prepared by Julia Cook and illustrated by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde. Teachers will read this book to the students in a whole group setting, followed by a class discussion. This book helps provide an age-appropriate context for the students as they begin to practice the safety drills during school.
  • 3-8: Students in grades three through eight will also practice enhanced lockdown and evacuation drills, in addition to learning strategies that will help them increase their odds of survival should they not be given an option evacuate a danger zone.

We will have a few copies of I’m Not Scared...I’m Prepared in the library (not in the general collection, but in reserve for parents) if parents are interested in learning more about this children’s book. And like most things, you can always order on Amazon!

This week I would like to continue our discussion on student-led conferences by examining teacher roles in these meetings. In a traditional parent-teacher conference, the student and parent/guardian are passive receivers of information as the teacher delivers an update about the students’ academic, social and sometimes emotional progress. Often times the student is not even present during the meeting in which their progress and achievement is being discussed!

Student-led conferences break down this barrier as students and parents become active participants in discussing performance and growth. During student-led conferences, teachers become a facilitator as opposed to being the meeting leader. A teacher’s primary role for student-led conferences is to prepare the student for the conference rather than being a leader or presenter during conference time.

Teachers prepare students in a number of ways for the conferences. Teachers will share an outline for the requirements of a student portfolio, assist students in selecting work for the portfolio, and help prepare students to present their portfolio during conference time. Teachers help students select pieces for their portfolio that reflect a student's strengths and opportunities for growth, as well as encouraging the child to select one or two examples of work of which they are proud. Outlining the format of the conference, providing opportunities to practice presenting to others, and sharing discussion starters such as, “I do better in ELA when I…” all go a long way in preparing the students for a successful conference. When students are reflective about their own learning and can communicate how they learn to others and their parents, they develop the self-advocacy skills to “get what they need” to be successful as students.

During the conference, a teacher’s primary role is to be a self-advocate for the student during the conference. As a parent or guardian, don’t be surprised if you see a lower-than-expected grade, or your child admits to not giving their best effort on a particular assignment. Teachers are present during the conference to guide discussions in a supportive and positive direction, so the meeting focuses on growth and not blame. This is why the conference begins with focusing on areas of strength before moving on to opportunities for growth. Finally, teachers will work with each family to help develop an action plan to support a student’s growth and improvement. Examples of this action plan can include setting aside a specific homework time, creating a quiet study place, or other strategies that are meant to work for each family individually.

Next week we will explore more deeply the student’s role in a student-led conference. After all, it is about them right!?

God bless,
Michael Wright