I’ve invited Mindy Corr to share an AWESOME idea she posted about in the discussion community for the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Mindy is a 4th grade teacher in Roseville City School District in California. She is in her 16th year of teaching and has taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Thank you for sharing this, Mindy!
After 16 years of teaching 4th-6th graders, I have seen a lot of trends come and go. One current trend that I think has some staying power is the concept of the “flipped classroom.” This concept goes something like this: The teacher makes a digital copy of their lesson (this is typically a video but could be a slideshow, too) and assigns this as homework. Students watch the video and get the introduction to the concept at home. Then, they come to school and dig in and do the work there instead of at home. I love this idea!
Playing off of the “flipped classroom” idea, my district provided a training on the “flipped back-to-school night.” This blew my mind because although I love talking to children, I do NOT enjoy speaking in front of adults. I attended this training too late for this year’s BtSN; however, it was a couple weeks prior to conference week. My mind started turning over the idea of a “flipped conference.”
First, I took to Google and couldn’t really find what I was looking for. Then, I went to YouTube and found a video that kind of had the idea of a “flipped conference” but still not quite what I had in mind. I have always done student-led conferences and I wanted to keep that element in place, but save the amount of time spent at school in meetings.
Here’s what I came up with:
1) Assessment portfolios
We have assessment portfolios, which are binders with tabs labeled by standards. Under each standard are assessments that had been done in the current trimester. I had students take these home and share their assessments with their families. All but one of my families did this which shocked me. I was fully prepared to let some sharing happen during conference time if need be.
2) Google Forms
Once the sharing was complete, parents and children were asked to fill out this Google Form (click and choose the ‘make a copy’ button on the Copy Document page) that I emailed out once the portfolios went home. This was KEY to the flipped conference. (Next year, I will ask them to include the conference date and time so I don’t have to.)
3) Responses from Google Forms
Google Forms organized the responses into one Excel-style “sheet” which allowed me to sort them by conference day. Then, I read through the responses and wrote my thoughts (in red) in each column so I was prepared to discuss with the families. I was also able to find materials to have at the conference that addressed any concerns shared through the form.
My conferences were set at 30-minute intervals. But with all of the prep done by both the families and myself prior to the meeting, most lasted no more than 10-15 minutes. (Upon reflections, I realized that next year I can offer 15-minute blocks and allow them to double book for a 30-minute conference if the family feels like they need more time to discuss.)
Here’s how the conferences went:
- I had the students attend and start the meeting by sharing what they were proud of and what goals they had for next trimester.
- Then, I shared with them what I was proud of and my ideas on how to help them meet their goals.
- Finally, we looked at the report cards, and then each student got to walk their parents around the room and show off any work that was hanging.
- Parents thanked me for the meeting (I know — when does that happen?) and left with materials in hand to help their child succeed and grow in the upcoming trimester.
- I was able to address concerns and success, and no one was surprised about anything!
- Students were still in the lead and still got to share success.
- Students set their goals and had time to think about it prior to the meeting.
- I was able to prepare for parents’ concerns before they came in.
- There is some preparation required ahead of time.
- I spent about 10 minutes each night looking over parent responses and preparing my responses.