Our conferences consisted of stations and three families attending at once. The kids got a list and they have to visit each station (in any order). Our stations were:
Fast Track phonics
talk to the teacher
Overall, I really liked the process, but here are some thoughts:
- parents get to see their kids in action and how they are doing with the activities rather than just hearing me talk about their kids
- I can "meet" with 3 or 4 families at once (which really is a time saver considering I have 43 students
- Parents can see when kids struggle, so I don't have to "break the news"
- Parents are more involved
- Kids have to come and take part in the conference instead of staying home
- I have more flexibility to move around and use the bathroom during conferences if needed
- I can see parents interact with their kids while they rotate through stations
- Despite the schedule and indication that the conferences should last 30 minutes, some families stayed a long time. I intended to only have three families per time slot, but at one point I think I had six or seven families in the room and people ended up waiting for station and waiting to talk to me. I just let them do their thing, but it got crowded....
- Again, despite the schedule, I ended up staying 45 minutes longer than I planned talking with parents (today I didn't have anything else to do, but this could be an issue Thursday bc I have to leave for class right after my last conference and I don't want to rush anyone out the door)
- If a family has to cancel (like for a sick kid), it's hard to re-create student-led conferences at a later time.
I feel like I knew a lot of the information about phonics instruction, yet I also learned a lot too. I didn't really know much about how reading has been taught over the years and how/when instructional styles changed. I always hear that it's a pendulum that swings, but at least for my paper, it is really good to know how instruction changed, when, and what the research was behind the changes.
We'll see if I have time to read these over break. I will be enjoying time with Mr. Sneaker, so I may not get to them, but I am excited to read them as well. I have SO many teachery books that I just can't wait to read, but it's hard to find extra time for reading on top of what I read for my courses and what I read for book club. I guess I will have to catch up over the summer. I think back to how much I got to read for pleasure when I worked part time in Germany and I am jealous because that just doesn't happen anymore!