It is so hard to believe we are wrapping up our first semester! I have learned a great deal in my brief stent as a school administrator. What strikes me as the biggest lesson learned is that children are more capable than we think if given the opportunity! I have seen growth not only in my children but also in our entire student body. There were times at the beginning of the year that I wondered “what have I gotten myself into”. Now that we are in a great rhythm and I have a working knowledge of the Acton systems, I believe I have found my calling. I must admit that I am madly, deeply, and extatically in love with my job.
This week we will begin our parent conferences. I wanted to set the stage for what parents can expect from the conference. Acton is unlike traditional schools where parents and students might tend to cringe when it came time to discuss the report card. We feel the end of a semester should be a time of celebration, reflection, and goal setting. We do not believe any child should be evaluated based on test scores alone but rather by the character they exhibit and progress they made as an individual. I have gotten a lot of insight from the Acton owners forum and directly from Jeff and Laura Sandafer regarding parent conferences. Based on all the wonderful feedback we have gotten; our parent conferences have developed into the following.
Parents of students in the K-1 class will be given an Accomplishments and Growth Goals report. This customized report outlines what skills the student has mastered and what concepts are still being worked on. Each Guide will comment on the student’s character qualities exhibited including leadership, being a good friend, being respectful, etc. This time of reflection will also include any areas the Guides feel the student needs to specifically focus their attention on.
Parents of students in the 2-6 grade class will have the opportunity to meet with their student and myself to share their portfolio and online work with you. As parents, it is important to continue the work of the guide at home by serving as a running partner rather than an authoritarian. The power of the self-paced and student lead learning environment lies in the parent’s ability to trust their child and let the system work (boy this can be hard)! Encouraging or otherwise dictating that children meet deadlines or do their work at home takes away an amazing learning opportunity. There is great opportunity to learn from failing, receiving a strike, or losing an eagle dollar. “Failure is an event, not a person” Zig Ziglar. Viewing failure as something to be avoided at all cost vs. a teacher can lead to missed lessons for our children to learn perseverance, problem solving, and above all build good character.
Children in the 2-6 grade class are writing parents a letter outlining what they have learned and what their goals for 2017 are. Igniting the students internal drive to be successful and self-motivated is one of the goals of our program. At the conference parents might also have questions on freedom levels, eagle dollars, and progress of their student in an individual subject. We feel it is important that the student take responsibility for answering these questions. After students, have shown their work and answered any questions you might have, they are free to go back to class. We will save a few minutes at the end of the meeting for any administrative questions you might have. Our goal is to keep the meeting within the 30-40-minute time frame.
Right now, I hear the kids happy sounds here at school. #feelingblessed.