Friday, 14 December 2012

Goal Setting and Conferencing

One of the pieces of feedback I received from my students as part of an end-of-year evaluation that they completed for me was that they liked the way I set goals for them in their reading and writing. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't super organised or experienced in goal-setting and conferencing at the start of this first half year of teaching; however, despite that my students still designated this as a key factor that assisted them in their learning. Accordingly, I put a fair amount of effort into creating my goals and strategies page template that my 2013 grade 5/6 students will create a booklet for and use across the year in at least fortnightly conferences with me. I will require it to be open on their tables during each and every reading and writing session and expect them to be able to quote their goals to me and the strategies that relate to each of them.

A leading teacher who is modelling some lessons for me at the moment taught me that, after a conference, for the following week - particularly in grade 5/6 - it is important that once strategies have been established with a student to hand over responsibility to them to try to achieve them. That is the reason I've added the last two columns, I am - according to my kids' feedback - someone who's not afraid to give very honest feedback and I strongly believe children don't gain anything from a teacher telling them 'Good job!' when they know themselves that it wasn't one. The overall rating at the bottom for the five conferences aims to further support that purpose and will firstly be self-assessed by my student in one colour, and subsequently by myself in another.

I have also created a conferencing timetable for reading and writing sessions in 2013 which will ensure that the children keep me accountable for meeting with them to discuss these goals and strategies on a regular, consistent basis. I'm pretty consistent with conferencing regularly but having this standardised, displayed timetable hopefully will help it work effortlessly such that children arrive on my conferencing chair as soon as they see the student prior to them in the timetable is finished. Not having to call upon and wait for kids to prepare themselves after unexpectedly being called up for a conference will save valueable minutes, which all add up across the year.

The colours are the names of my groups, I see my lows (red and pink) more often than my highs (yellow and brown). In the blank single boxes, I will insert students' names once I know my grade. That equates to 12 individual conferences per week, four teaching groups in reading, four in writing per week, plus my spelling group every day.

Any extra time in my writing sessions will be used for my spelling support group outlined in the post below. For the extra time boxes in my reading sessions, I will enter in names of any 5/6 students who are still on running records/levelled texts again once I know my class for next year. This timetable will be displayed prominently in an area where students can see it and hold me accountable to it - and in my experience they will because they enjoy and want as much one-on-one and group-based assistance and goal-setting as they can get.

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