Rit­ual needs a shake-up

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - with greg whit­byy @greg­whitby

THERE are still schools that en­gage in the timeless rit­ual of the par­ent/teacher in­ter­view or vari­a­tions of it.

Of­ten these in­ter­views are as­signed 10 min­utes or less, which has led some par­ents to de­scribe the process as akin to speed dat­ing.

In its cur­rent form, most par­ent/teacher in­ter­views are lit­tle more than an ex­er­cise in school pub­lic re­la­tions.

In mak­ing school­ing more rel­e­vant and in­clu­sive, we need to adopt the equiv­a­lent of the med­i­cal round where the stu­dent leads the process of dis­cussing their learn­ing in the same way stu­dent doc­tors do.

THERE are still schools that en­gage in the timeless rit­ual of the par­ent/teacher in­ter­view or vari­a­tions of it.

These take place once or if you are lucky, twice a year. In the­ory, these oc­ca­sions are an op­por­tu­nity for teach­ers to pro­vide par­ents with feed­back on how each child is pro­gress­ing and for par­ents to ask ques­tions.

Of­ten these in­ter­views are as­signed 10 min­utes or less, which has led some par­ents to de­scribe the process as akin to speed dat­ing.

In its cur­rent form, most par­ent/teacher in­ter­views are lit­tle more than an ex­er­cise in school pub­lic re­la­tions. They don’t add much value in pro­vid­ing a com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of where each child is at, where they need to be and how teach­ers will work with stu­dents in reach­ing their next goal.

In mak­ing school­ing more rel­e­vant and in­clu­sive, we need to adopt the equiv­a­lent of the med­i­cal round where the stu­dent leads the process of dis­cussing their learn­ing in the same way stu­dent doc­tors do. Some schools have al­ready in­tro­duced this idea of stu­dent-led con­fer­enc­ing where learn­ers take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their learn­ing by re­flect­ing on their in­di­vid­ual goals, chal­lenges, ef­fort and strate­gies for suc­cess.

I saw this last year when I vis­ited a Cana­dian pri­mary school. Walls in their assem­bly hall were used to track the learn­ing jour­ney of each child. What im­pressed me was the learn­ing progress was vis­i­ble all year round. Par­ents could drop in and have their child talk them through their learn­ing goals and mile­stones.

The value add of the edu- cational round or stu­den­tled con­fer­enc­ing over the out­dated par­ent/teacher in­ter­view is that the learner is in­te­gral to the process.

Suc­cess­ful learn­ing is be­ing able to iden­tify where the gaps are in learn­ing and teach­ers work­ing pur­pose­fully with stu­dents to close those gaps for ev­ery child.

If stu­dents are in a po­si­tion to re­flect on their learn­ing, then the role of teach­ers could be to pre­dict the learn­ing for ev­ery child so that par­ents could see not only where stu­dents have been but where they ex­pect to be the fol­low­ing year.

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