Teacher Feature:{Run Teacher Run}

What a great day it is!  Summer has been here long enough that we've all made some memories, but we still have that precious time left to get our classrooms ready, organize it the best way possible, and get familiar with our new students' names!  For me, it's also 4-H fair week, which is always a great time of year!  Oh wait, in case you didn't notice, I'm blogging for TBA!  Yes, you heard me!  And now you've read me!  I'm blogging on TBA!!

So I guess I need to introduce myself to you all.  My name is Mary Beth, and I've been teaching for 5 years in the Indianapolis area.  This year I am transitioning into a new role in a new district, but am very excited about the changes!  My blog, Run Teacher Run, started as an accountability measure for running on a regular basis, but also sharing things about my 2nd grade classroom.  After running a marathon, I wanted to make sure I tried to keep up with some sort of exercise so I thought if I made it public, I'd have to at least make an attempt!

Here is a picture of the 5 of us that did the marathon together.  We grew up playing soccer since 3rd grade, and to some of their dismay they agreed to run the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C. with me!  

For today's post though, I'm going to share about my Student Led Conferences.  SLC's have been my a non-negotiable for me since my first year of teaching.  As a child, I was part of a multi-age program where SLC's were the norm, so I really didn't know any different.  THANK GOODNESS!!  

When I think about traditional conferences, I always wonder why would we talk to parents about their child without the child there?  It's like we're talking behind their backs.  If they are succeeding, they should know that we are all celebrating this together!  If they need some work in some areas, the students should know that we are all there to support them...together!  

Since my 1st year, the format has changed and evolved, but I love them, my students love them, and my parents love them.  I call my first year the getting parents on board year.  They were unsure, confused, and asked many countless times, "Is my child really supposed to come with me?"  After assurance, the conferences were well attended with only one student not showing up.  Although this year was more teacher talk, student watching, it helped me realize what needed to change.  

My 2nd year was the year of getting teachers on board!  My team was great, and we all worked together to have SLC's in all of our classrooms.  This helped tremendously because they had ideas for sharing that I hadn't even thought of!  

Year 3 was a tweaking year of getting things just right.  We added in some things, extended our time to make it more meaningful, and students were doing most of the talking.

Year 4 was a scheduling overhaul year.  Another teacher had a great idea to have multiple families in the room at one time so that we were having conferences for hours on end.  Students are doing all of the talking, and I am there to assist

Year 5 was figuring out how to do this with 2nd graders (I had taught 3rd grade the 4 years prior).  I started using Data Binders, and the students go to see their Report Cards before their parents!  Can you believe it?!  The students were shocked to be able to look at their report card!  After all, it is their work that has culminated on this infamous piece of paper.  

I honestly think I could write a book about SLC's because I love them so much.  Here is why:

Okay, I'm going to give you a list of things that students typically share with their parents and then outline my schedule of conferences.  

In their Data Binders:
- Spelling graph with test grades and personal words
- Math graph with test grades and Math Fact Mastery chart
- Reading levels
- Aimsweb data
- Behavior Self-Assessment 
- Goals Sheet to fill out after looking at student data and work
- This is not an exhaustive list, and I add and subtract things year to year

Example of Schedule:

4:00pm - Brown Family
   4:00-4:15 - Student shares Data Binder with family members without any teacher assistance
   4:15-4:30 - Teacher comes over to student and family to answer questions, share successes and  
4:15pm - Smith Family
   4:15-4:30 - Student shares Data Binder with family members without any teacher assistance 
                     (Teacher is meeting with Brown family right now)
   4:30-4:45 - Teacher comes over to student and family to answer questions, share successes and

4:30pm - Riley family 
   (Brown family is done, and is leaving)
   4:30-4:45 - Student shares Data Binder with family members without any teacher assistance 
                     (Teacher is meeting with Smith family right now)
   4:45-5:00 - Teacher comes over to student and family to answer questions, share successes and

Clear as mud?  This allows me to spend 15 minutes with every family and to get through all of my families in two nights, which is our district's schedule.  The families have also already gone through all of the data and information, so they have background knowledge on whether their child is on track or not for our end-of-year goals.  

Ok, well obviously I could go on and on, but I wanted to share my experiences with SLC's, and see if anyone else out there has ideas I haven't even thought of!  I've talked about student led conferences a few times on my blog and will continue them in the future, so come share in the fun! Also, join me in my running adventures, or share your own when you come visit me!

You can email me at runteacherrun@gmail.com or hop on over to my blog by clicking below!

Have a great finish to weekend, and for those of you Bachelorette fanatics, enjoy the Finale tonight!


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