Last year we started student-teacher conferences school wide so that students would get this opportunity to receive feedback from their teachers year after year. If you didn't know this already...I looped from first graders up to second grade this year. With that being said, it was so interesting to see how much more reflective they have become in just a years time. Last year in first grade our conference was much more basic with discussions of what their favorite subject was and hopes and dreams for the second half of the second year.
However, this year so many more of my students had a deeper understanding of what subjects came easily to them and what subjects were more challenging for them. From this discussion we started focusing in on what they found challenging in certain subjects that weren't as natural for them. Then we started setting goals to become more proficient writers, readers, and mathematicians. Some of my students even decided that instead of focusing on a subject for their goal they needs to focus more on citizenship skills such as responsibility or respect.
We have had a focus on feedback at school because of its importance in leading students to success. Acknowledging that they are doing well in certain areas gives them a sense of achievement, motivation and drive. Recognizing what areas students need to improve in is also important so that they can grow as learners. Just a simple "good job" or "this is incorrect" is not necessarily effective feedback that will help them grow as students. Effective feedback requires that the feedback given to them is something they can learn from and even direct them to start setting goals.
When conferencing with my students I wanted them to leave the conference with a goal in mind. So I had them do some simple self reflection before meeting with me. This included giving themselves a thumbs up, thumps down or thumbs to the side based on how they feel they have done in math, reading and writing. I also had them reflect on some basic citizenship goals such as staying on task and following directions. Once they did this reflection I ask them to write two simple sentences about what they feel they are good at in school and what they feel they could get better at in school. This helped guide and focus our conference time because I was able talk with them about what I saw as their strength and areas for growth in the classroom. Leading up to the conference I also read a lot of read alouds with characters that set goals and worked to achieve different dreams.
After conferencing and setting goals together we read SUPERDOG! The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner. From this I modeled how the main character, Dex, set a goal to be a superhero and we discussed what actions he took to reach this goal. The students loved the book and it helped them understand that goals don't happen over night. My favorite quote from the book was that "wanting and being are two different things." This lead to a powerful conversation with my students about the difference between wanting something and becoming something through hard work. The book demonstrated that reaching your goal can be very rewarding. From this we wrote down our goals to help remind us that we have a purpose and a plan while we are at school. In a few weeks we are going to check in with our goals. Here is our example of Dexter the Superdog's goals:
If you are interested in doing student-teacher conferences with your class or even goal setting visit my TpT store and download your copy of my goal setting pages.
Hope you enjoy and happy goal setting!