Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Challenge to Differentiate: Parent Conferences

It's parent conference week. As I sit with each family, I am reminded of the need to personalize and differentiate in order to meet each student's needs--needs that vary to some degree in multiple ways.

At first that can seem overwhelming, yet I have made a commitment to work with families and students to help each child progress with confidence, knowledge, concept, and skill. Together we can create and contribute to a program that supports each child's learning well.

Also, many families bring the State standardized test reports with them--reports that demonstrate student scores in ELA and Math over the past three years as well as a growth score that demonstrates how that child progressed in comparison to his/her like-ability peers as determined by past performance on the standardized tests.

Similarly, our system assesses students in a number of ways so that each child basically has a "stats" list of reading, writing, and math scores. These scores provide a basic skill and knowledge profile.

In many ways I like this statistical profile as we can determine which students are most in need of small group attention, reteaching in specific areas (or enrichment), and new strategies and tools.

The conference is also a time to review a child's program with a holistic lens related to social, emotional, physical fitness, and health factors.

As I assess the first half of the conferences, I recognize that we're at a turn in the road in the school year as we move from the "getting to know you stage" of the first six weeks to the first half of the year program stage--a stage that will move standard-to-standard with identified interventions, enrichment, and learning experiences to help every child succeed. Onward.