Conference preparations -- it's all about learning - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Conference preparations -- it's all about learning

Posted on December 7, 2008

by Dr. Edna Hussey on December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

As I walked through classes this past week, I observed students from kindergarten through the fifth grade steeped in careful reflection as they wrote about their learning processes. It is gratifying to see the students approach the organization of their progress portfolios and selection of pieces with seriousness and thoughtfulness.

When parents, child, and classroom teacher meet for the end-of-semester conference this Thursday or Friday (kindergartners through fifth graders), the process begins with an assessment of the student's strengths and what the student is able to do, as identified by the student and the teacher and documented in the portfolio. The conference will include discussion about what the student needs to continue to develop into the second semester.  Some teachers will have asked their students to identify some learning goals for the next semester.  Parents will be able to review their child's portfolio prior to the conference; however, every portfolio is taken home after the conference so that the parents and student together can more carefully review each portfolio selection.  Having conversations about the student's learning creates a strong foundation between parent and child and fosters a positive attitude toward learning. 

It's important to keep in mind, as we so often remind parents and students, that learning is an ongoing process often riddled with errors and mistakes, all of which are attempts that lead to achievement.  Think of the number of times we practice -- a golf swing, a dance step, a brush stroke on a canvas, crafting a paragraph -- in order to get better.  So it is with the learning demonstrated by our students.  While it is common for parents to expect perfection, perhaps valuing a math sheet without any errors, or a flawless final piece of student writing, the errors provide information about the student's understanding and where the teacher needs to provide more instruction or a different approach.  We celebrate the risk-taker and the achiever.   

The specialists --teachers of art, physical education, music, and character education -- will be available to meet with parents on conference days. However, I recommend that you send an email to these teachers to arrange for a specific meeting time.  The work of your children in these classes is just as important as reading, writing, mathematics, and inquiry.  Here are the email addresses for your convenience:  Pam Jenkins (PE),; Jill Brooks Johnson (art),; Shirley Rivera (CE for grades 3-5, counselor); Lori Abe (CE for grades K-2), (PS character education and physical education),; Diane Koshi (music);
Jordan Guillory (PS atelierista),

We are happy to have accommodated all parents needing childcare on Thursday and Friday. However, we will be unable to take any walk-ins or anyone not already signed up as of this past Friday. We have adequate supervision as required by the Department of Human Services for the number of children already enrolled in childcare during the conference days.  Parents must remember to send their children to school with a snack and/or lunch, depending on the length of stay.  Students must wear athletic shoes or sandals with straps if they want to play during recess on the playstructure and playcourt.  

This Wednesday, December 10, is Choice Day, or free dress day.  We missed an opportunity last week because there was no school on the first Friday of December.

All parents should have received an envelope in the Friday packet (manila envelope) containing three tickets per family for the Christmas program on December 19, 6:00pm., one performance only.  There is limited seating in Bakken Auditorium, which will have been newly renovated with new seats, flooring, air-conditioning, and lights.  If you do not need the tickets issued to your family, please return the tickets to the school office as soon as possible so that we can re-issue tickets to other families requesting more tickets.  

On this December 7th, we remember the brave-hearted of Pearl Harbor.  

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey