About Me

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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2nd Grade Teacher at a school in Melbourne, Australia. My job: push kids to think. My passion: helping kids to tackle the life-long skill of searching for meaning, skills, answers and more questions.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

NO HOMEWORK - Parent Feedback Time......

Parent / Teacher Interviews.....
Yup.... they are pretty stressful for everyone involved.  Teachers put hours and hours into their preparations.  Still, privately, every teacher wonders if this will be the year that a 'feral parent' decides to 'go for them'.
Just waiting for this to happen.  It's part of our mental prep....

Imagine the stress of a teacher who has set absolutely no homework all year - 3 months of  the academic school year thus far.  I haven't set homework for my students since midway through last year.  My current group of year 4 students live in a NO HOMEWORK universe.  They have embraced their Home Learning and they protect this young concept vigorously. 

But were the parents just sharpening their knives in the background?

Parent / Teacher interviews were last week.... at the end of Term One.  I slaved over the usual prep.  I double-checked books.  I looked over the available data.  I did a lot of chin-scratching, pondering, analysing and ironing of nice shirts.  I was waiting for at least one parent to call me unprofessional.  I was waiting for at least one parent to tell me that I wasn't doing my job - that I was slacking off - that I was damaging their kid.

How I envisage at least one set of parents to present on the night... Cheery pair these two are!
.........Didn't happen.

What I saw instead were parents who were happy with the Home Learning journey so far.  I offered opportunities for parents to raise concerns or questions.  Don't get me wrong - there were questions.  But these parents showed a staggering amount of trust in the process, the research, the data, their kids and (for some reason) in me.

The questions 'my' parents asked were ones you'd find anywhere on the planet.
Here are a few choice selections... warts and all.

"If my child is not doing maths at home, how will he consolidate maths learning?"

"My son will do what you tell him to do.  Why not just 'tell him' to do homework?"

"How will this program prepare my daughter for high-school?"

"Should I be hiring a private tutor?"

"What should my child's au pair be doing?  She needs the structure."

"Will my child learn to be lazy?"

"Is my child developing an unhealthy reliance on Minecraft?"

As you can see, while I wasn't 'smashed' by any parent (as per the anxious thoughts of the sleepless nights beforehand) I was definitely challenged and questioned.  Thank GOD for that!

Questioning means that these parents CARE.   No-brainer.
Questioning means that these parents TRUST.   They trust that they can ask and be respected by me.
Questioning means that these parents WANT to UNDERSTAND.  They want to know more.

Questions will also keep you 'up to speed' with the complex process of war-time rationing
I've decided that the answers to these questions each deserve their own blog post.  This will be my personal plan for returning to the land of blogging.  I've been absent for a few months while I reinvent myself personally after a life-changing event.  My return to blogging will begin tonight and soon proceed with the answers to these legitimate questions.

My responses will ultimately come back to the following:

Kids need to CARE.  They need to SEE VALUE in putting some time in each week to develop skills.
Kids need to KNOW what our Target TransDisciplinary Skills are for their current unit.
Kids need to KNOW the subsets of these skills - and what they look like in action.
Kids need to DECIDE which skills they want to develop (work on) for themselves.
Kids need to SET GOALS for what they'd like to be able to achieve during that six-week period.
Kids need to MAKE A PLAN for how to achieve these goals.
Teachers need to HELP KIDS with their PLANS - explicitly.
Kids need to DISCUSS TIMETABLES with their parents - for when they intend to put their PLANS into action.
Kids need to FEED BACK to each other - not to me - what they have achieved.

How do I respond to questions about Maths, motivation, high-school preparation, tutors, au pairs, learned laziness and Minecraft?  The list above is my starting point.  The details will follow.

I'm back.

See you again soon.


Anonymous said...

Glad you're back, Blackie :)
Mrs J

Layla Sacker said...

I am so glad too. Missed your voice

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. I am interested to know why a progressive setting like yours subscribes to the old model of "parent-teacher interviews"? We have just finished our round of Student Led Conferences and it seems like a natural progression from your student-centered home learning model. Any thoughts?

Richard Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Black said...

Indeed I do have thoughts about student led conferences. Our year 6 team just did these instead of P/T. I'm all for these - once our students have completed a cycle of self-evaluation, goal setting, planning and reviewing. Once the students have the skills to discuss what's important to them 'in a language that their parents will buy', then I'm sure we'll be welcome to 'give them the keys'.

callalacork101 said...

I'm also glad you are back - and look forward to your thoughts - especially regarding the au pair and minecraft.

I appreciate you sharing your experiences with us - thanks!