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Blog: Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Parent Teacher Conferences, A Door to Deeper Understanding

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Last week was a beehive of activity across the district with parent teacher conferences, in preparation for our revised report cards. By all accounts the conferences were highly successful and well received by parents and students alike. It was a golden opportunity to communicate the language of our competency based curriculum to parents. Many schools used student-led conferences to great effect. This allowed students to use the language with their parents in highlighting their learning from this past term. I am big fan of student led conferences mainly because they require a deeper level of investment in learning from our students, and because it encourages student self-reflection. True, many parents prefer to hear from the teacher, but we know that, done properly, most of them leave the student led conferences with a great appreciation for their kid’s learning.

More than ever students are using the language of our curricular competencies. They can give their parents concrete examples of how they are communicating, collaborating and thinking across the various subject areas. It’s important to note that there are nuanced differences between these competencies across the various disciplines. Critical thinking looks different in mathematics than it does in social studies. Mathematicians think differently from historians in solving problems that are unique to their discipline. It is important to ensure that students know this and collect and curate artifacts that show how they are growing as learners in each of these areas. The deeper their understanding, the better they will be able to share it, and thus the greater the appreciation their parents will have about how their children are developing as learners.

The conferences will pave the way for deeper understanding of our revised reports cards which will be distributed in a few days. It is time for us to move away from the low bar of “no surprises” and elevate the discourse about student learning to a level that matches our aspiration for a system committed to personalized learning. We want our students to be creative, collaborative, responsible, and culturally sensitive problem solvers, and so we must not only nurture these dispositions, but also teach them to use this language in such a way that their parents (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) can truly appreciate.

By Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.