Parent-Teacher Conferences represent a time full of potential, in our relationship together. This relationship is really a unique one, if you think about it. While most relationships are based on mutual interests or experiences, ours is based around a child. You and your child’s guide both have the child’s well-being as the central goal. In our school, every aspect of our lesson planning, presentations, everything (observations 😉) is centered around the development of children and precisely honed for your child, in particular. When we meet this week, we are so looking forward to fostering that relationship.
Sometimes, I think especially in Montessori environments, it is really difficult for parents to have a look inside their child’s day. That makes parent-teacher conferences really crucial for parents. However, we have tried to alleviate some of the “Montessori Mystery” by offering Transparent Classroom. As we prepare for conferences, I would like to highlight some really cool aspects of Transparent Classroom for parents.
The Progress Tab
The first thing I love is the Progress tab. At the top of the page is the legend. For Nora, I know that the darker the blue, the more she “gets it.” Orange means this is something I need to keep an eye on. Flags mean this is a planned lesson.
So, in Geometry, Nora has been introduced to several things, meaning she has received a lesson or demonstration. She also revisited a demonstration, when she practiced Design With Drawing: Geometric Design.
This gives me language to use when I ask Nora about her work. I’m going to focus on things that she’s practicing, so I might say, “So, I learned you have been doing some Geometric Design. Tell me a little bit about that.”
For most lessons in Toddler and Primary and some lessons in Elementary and Farm School, there is a lesson description if I click on the name of the lesson.
Here, I’ve clicked on the word “Similar” under the Geometry set of lessons. It has brought up a description of the lesson itself, along with a picture of the material, and the purpose of the lesson. With this lesson, I can start to incorporate the language use into our daily lives. Other lessons provide me with some insight into new skills my daughter has. When she learned to sew at school, for instance, I introduced her to my embroidery stash, and we spent some time doing that together.
Under Geography, I noticed Nora has an orange circle. I am going to keep an eye on this particular lesson because I want to make sure she comes back to it, at some point. Kathryn has identified this as an area that Nora did not understand. So, I will monitor it and maybe ask a few questions about this at conference.
While I check in with Transparent Classroom three or four times a month for day-by-day progress, the guides prepare Conference Reports quarterly. I access those in the Conference Reports tab in my child’s profile. If your child has been here for a while, you will see a list of dated Conference Reports. You will select the most recent. For demonstration purposes, I selected Nora’s profile (I love your children too, but I want to maintain their privacy! 😊)
I am going to see responses in several categories. The categories are different for each level. In Primary, one of the categories is Social/Emotional. It has several subcategories and specific measures in each subcategory.
So, in the 3rd quarter of last school year, Nora was doing well in Self-Esteem (happy, positive attitude; secure & self-confident; accepts responsibilities for self).
A little later in the report, under Language, I see that she’s making progress, but not consistent in some areas of Language. Her guide provided some information about some of the areas in which she is not consistent.
This progress report is for a 6 year old child who had been in the classroom for 3 ½ years, so each of the items is filled out, except Grammar. The younger the child, in the three-year age range, the less will be filled out. A blank item indicates it hasn’t yet been presented. Usually, that’s because the child isn’t developmentally prepared for that work.
Now, after Language, Math, and certain other academic sections of the curricula, there will be a list of Common Core Standards, like this:
This list is all of the Common Core Standards that my child’s work has addressed, in this session. So, Nora “practiced” (see the blue) “With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.” Next to that line, there is a code in italics, RL.K.6. The RL comes from the particular content area, which is identified in bold and underlined just above the standard. So, RL means Reading: Literature. Next, the K refers to Kindergarten. If your child is in 3rd grade, that code will be 3. Then, there is a 6, which refers to the number of the standard in Reading: Literature.
Notice that most of the standards have been practiced, one mastered, one introduced. Over time in the classroom, those will progress from introduced to mastered. Over the course of a three-year cycle, each of the standards for those three years will be touched upon.
Using This for Parent-Teacher Conferences
I think it’s difficult to know how to ask questions about development in Montessori. We really believe that children progress at the pace that they need. But what does that mean, if I think my child may have a delay or be gifted or any number of things that need early intervention? The truth is, we know the ranges for developmental milestones. We can’t diagnose, of course, but we can offer observations. These tools within Transparent Classrooms are some of the ways that we observe.
On Monday, the week of conferences, every child will have their Conference Reports published in Transparent Classroom. Plan to look through the Conference Report and the Progress Tab. Jot down your top three or four questions for their guide.
Fall Conferences are a great time to get to know your child’s guide, to learn about their observations, and set expectations for the year, along with the guide. Know that the conference will feel short, but if you have more questions or things to discuss, we are happy to continue the conversation via email or in person, at another time!