I am not sure if parent/teacher conferences or student-led conferences are in the rearview mirror or are upcoming at your school, but I hope this post may be of some use. I recall well the anxiety they used to cause me as a teacher, administrator, and parent. Yet it is good to have this planned time of communication together. It is a prime opportunity to bless and challenge the student as they are surrounded by some of the most important people in their lives. I wrote the post below to suggest a deeper focus on faith nurture at the conference time.
Shalom and Parent Teacher Conferences
(originally published in the Nurturing Faith blog 3.25.14)
During the fall and spring conference time with parents, teachers typically report on the academic progress of students to parents. It should be a time to share celebrations and concerns. Sometimes the student is present or even leading the conference. I believe that this time with parents is a critical one as it is one of the few times that there is an intense focus on their mutually shared responsibility – the student. From the school side of the equation, this is a prime time to also communicate the mission of the school to the parents. From the parent side, this is an opportunity to have a significant time to have a conversation with another adult who has worked with their child about their view of the child’s growth.
I have been emphasizing to Christian schools that this precious conference time should be about more than simply academics. Conferences are the best time to discuss the whole child’s progress, and, if we are true to our missions, we will take some time to consider the student’s spiritual growth. After all, one of our key distinctives as a school and one of the main reasons parents send their children is so that they will be nurtured in their faith; if we ignore this aspect or give it short shrift, we are missing a great opportunity!
I have suggested that we consider the terms wonder, wisdom, and work as we consider how to connect our work toward the ultimate outcomes of helping nurture student faith and to move toward shalom. Wolterstorff describes true shalom as harmony with nature, God, man, and self. In connecting these words to the K-12 educational experience, I would suggest that wonder is in harmony with nature, wisdom is in harmony with God, and work in harmony with self and neighbor. I am wondering if this model might work not only for curriculum design but also for conducting parent-teacher conferences. Using this model as a guide for parent-teacher conferences, our questions/areas of focus with parents might look like this:
Wonder: Is the student understanding and expressing awe about and delight in, the created order? Do they understand their place in the world as image-bearers? Are they beginning to develop an understanding of beauty, complexity, design, and what excellence looks like?
Wisdom: Is the student understanding and responding to the gospel? Do they understand how the world, including themselves, experiences sin and brokenness? Do they understand the good news through Biblical stories, personal stories, and teacher modeling? Are they beginning to discern good from evil? Are they understanding what it means to embrace and live out their faith? How to live into the grace of Christ and extend it to others?
Work: Is the student understanding who they are and showing a desire to live out the gospel with their neighbor? How have they responded to opportunities and challenges in the classroom to creatively contribute to the learning and life of others? Have they connected personal gratitude for the gospel with external actions? Are they beginning to understand what it means to restore this world to God’s original intentions?
News Flash! EMT's will be at CDL6!
No, not Emergency Medical Technicians - our conference will be exciting, but hopefully will not cause any medical emergencies. So, what is an EMT?
Introducing - the Eleven Minute Talk!
The Eleven Minute Talk is not as long as a TED Talk at 18 minutes but longer than a Pecha Kucha at 400 seconds or approximately 7 minutes. This format will give us the opportunity to learn and celebrate great classroom and school stories, as well as learn about various programs, tools, and resources. We already have our speakers lined up for this year, but if you have a great story/resource perhaps we could turn it into a blog post or podcast. If you have ideas/suggestions, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration continues to fill up! We will have an enrollment limit of 500 for this conference, so if you are considering coming, we advise you to register soon and save your spot! We hope to post the schedule and workshop offerings soon.
We have four great pre-conference opportunities! Come a day early and immerse yourself in learning more about PBL, IB, or TfT. We recently added a fourth pre-conference offering on Spiritual Renewal. This outdoor opportunity will be led by Donovan Graham, Joanna Levy, and Jim Peterson. You can view more information here.
Partnership: We are also seeking interested partners. Our partner sponsors understand what CDL is all about and that is why we invite them specifically to be there to connect with you. Please pass this information on if you know someone who might consider partnering to help make CDL6 possible.
Editor's note: We hope to share with you each week articles of interest that you may have missed. This will include current information as well as previous blog posts from CDL that perhaps you didn’t have time to read the first time around. If you have items you think may be of interest, please feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com.