AES students lead parent conferences

Published 12:59 am Tuesday, April 24, 2018

When parents of Andalusia Elementary School students were invited to the school for conferences last week, it wasn’t to meet with teachers.

“Teachers stand at the door and greet the parents,” fourth grade teacher Ragan Harwell said. “We are really proud that students can lead the conference and take ownership of it.”

Student-led parent conferences have been a goal at AES since the school launched its Leader in Me program in the 2014-15 school year. During the conferences, students use their Leader In Me notebooks to guide the conversation.

“Leadership notebooks are part of the Leader in Me program,” Harwell said. “They are a really important part of students’ learning. All students, kindergarten through 6th grade, start the year with leadership notebooks. The tools and data help kids set personal goals and monitor and see progress toward those goals. They include mission statements, behavior logs, goal sheets, calendars, homework data, and attendance calendars.

“The books give kids a chance to take ownership of learning,” Harwell said. “Since it is getting to be the end of the year, we wanted to give the students time to lead their own conference and show their parents their progress over the school year.”

While not all of a student’s grades are included in the notebook, there is an area where students may place things they’re proud of, like progress reports or an exceptional score. They also track t heir own STAR testing data. Charting progress on bar graphs as they improve.

“They are so excited to color that graph,” Harwell said. “As soon as they are done, they want to color them. We take our notebooks with us to the testing lab.”

The self-tracking motivates the students to perform well on the standardized tests which don’t affect their grades, she said.

“And I get to see them excited about learning, and taking ownership of this,” she said.

To prepare for the parent conferences, students role-played, sharing with a school work partner, or partnering with another classroom.

“This is the first time we’ve done it, and we were very pleased with the turnout,’” Harwell said.