What’s really going on with your students?

It’s spring break season, and with that comes the opportunity to take a break from the normal and do a more formal home stretch check-in with your students.  Yes, you’re doing lots of evaluations and you are well aware of how things are going academically for your students. Let’s think bigger than that. We strongly believe in ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative. We are developing our students for adult life and careers that don’t exist yet. The focus is on future-ready students who will be capable of handling whatever comes their way. With that as our focus, we need to make sure that we’re checking in on more than their academic performance. We need to check in on their health, safety, engagement, and how supported they feel.

Spring also brings student conferences. As you’re planning or wrapping up these conferences with caregivers, why not make the most of that time and make a plan to host mini-conferences with your students? This may sound like a daunting task,  but we know that scheduling this time and sticking to the time constraints means a lot to your students. For many, it could be just the opportunity they need to kick things into high gear or get that extra dose of confidence they need to keep working for the next couple of months.

Here are a few suggestions to make these mini-meetings a success:

  • Keep meetings to 5 minutes total.
    • Schedule 5-minute blocks so that you can not only meet with every student but also keep meetings from impacting your curriculum schedule.
    • When you create the schedule, give students an idea of what they’ll be doing and offer the opportunity to think of things they’d like to know or talk about.
  • Prepare a simple agenda.
    • Briefly review how the student is doing to date.
    • Restate your expectations, vision, and goals for the rest of the year. Starting off with these will set the tone and keep you focused on what is important for success in your class.
    • Give your students the opportunity to use his voice to describe what he likes about school this year and what he feels is challenging.
    • Ask questions that have to do with things outside of the school building. You know these kids well by now, and the more you show them how much you care about what’s going on with them, the stronger your relationships will be.
  • Take good notes.
    • These conversations can give precious insight into your students that will help you to engage them even more in learning.
    • Add a section or a page to their file with your notes on the mini-conference. Keep it to 2-3 sections with broad headings, like the information you gave the students to prepare them for the meeting.
    • Reporting to caregivers about what their students are saying about their performance in school will be a powerful and appreciated aspect of your agenda in the main event.

While mini-conference meetings between you and your students will help you prepare for your main conferences, this concept is an important one to carry through the rest of the school year in order to continue to build trust and engage with your students. This is not new information, but it is definitely important to remember how powerful your time is to your students. Really, how can you afford not to spend this time with them?

Image of quote by Stephen Covey over image of a classroom

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