Not a Parent’s Evening but a Goal Setting Conference.

school childrenThis week is school conference week. The kids finish at lunchtime and during the afternoons the teachers meet with parents and students to set goals for the coming term. School reports (report cards) are sent home every term and tomorrow we will meet with my daughter’s teacher to talk about what we need to work on. Each conference is 25 minutes – a far cry from the 10 minute annual slot we had in the UK.

Here are my thoughts on the first school conference:

I’ve just attended my 8 year olds first parents’ evening at school.  It is called a goal setting conference which I expected to be some flowery name for ‘Let’s talk about your child and  agree what they need to work on’. I was pleasantly surprised to find it actually was a goal setting conference focusing on the whole child at home and at school.

The children had already completed a survey deciding what they felt they should work on in both academic and social areas. They highlighted their strengths and chose 3 or 4 things as areas of improvement. Some things were highlighted from work that had been done in class and observations that had been made.  The teacher discussed each of the goals with my daughter agreeing with her how they might be achieved before looking to me for support from home.  My daughter had highlighted that she didn’t always respond to instructions straight away in class. Her teacher commented

You know what I’ve noticed? I think you are one of those people who take a little time to get going.  Maybe then we should turn this one on its head . Think about how you can help yourself to start your work quicker so that you do not feel that you are rushing to finish and late getting on to the next thing.

How great is that; a teacher who actually notices what your child does and how your child learns and wants to help them to find ways to improve.

My daughter and her teacher had talked about the need to be more organised. On a couple of occasions my daughter has forgotten her folder and her teacher discussed ways of avoiding this. Recognising my daughter as an avid reader she immediately asked

Do you read in the mornings before school?

Yes sometimes when I am eating my breakfast.

So why not do everything you need to do first and then have reading as a reward? 

How can we help you not to forget things?

I suggested a check list that she runs through each morning.

And how about we put that on your kindle so you know you won’t miss it?

There was a strong focus on taking responsibility for her own actions and not expecting mum to do everything for her. Mum has enough to do (I may be quoting this a lot over the next few weeks).

What a great parent’s evening and an amazing teacher. I feel like she knows my daughter better in a few weeks than some of her previous teachers did in a year. The focus on the whole child rather than academic achievement was like a breath of fresh air.

Maybe I could borrow her to organise the whole family.

3 thoughts on “Not a Parent’s Evening but a Goal Setting Conference.”

  1. Sounds really positive. Just booked in Zu’s first (nursery) consultation so we’ll see how it compares!
    Two questions:
    Is she settled in and enjoying her new class/school?
    How do results compare with the UK?
    If education is such a positive experience over there I wonder why British schooling is always set on such a pedestal!


    1. She loves her school but she does still miss her school in the UK, I should think largely due to friends.
      Quality across the US varies from state to state. We are fortunate to live in an area where all the schools are excellent. They have a rating system and all the schools here score 9 or 10 out of 10. I also think we have a pretty exceptional teacher.
      Since kids start full time school a year or 2 later than in the UK some of the type of work that is new to these kids she has been doing for some time. I’d say maths is pretty much in line with what she was doing but some things are easier. There seems to be a greater emphasis on progressively building writing skills, vocabulary and grammar.
      There is a huge achievement gap between rich and poor here which drags the test scores down.
      I was told that 1st year of degree here equates to our A levels.


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