Last week Caulfeild iDEC held our fall parent-teacher conferences as one of our formal assessment processes. As I watched the online bookings come in leading up to October 9th and 10th, I began to see that there were very few spaces left to book across our 15 divisions. I considered developing a rubric, or editing a Likert scale to assess our results, but quickly realized a percentage might be the best starting place and thus, emerged the question, “what does 94% really mean?”
The facts: Our current school population is 360 students from K to 7 across 15 divisions. Last week we hosted 339 conferences. This data reflects a participation rate of 94% which means many things to me.
The first aspect about this percentage is simple; it is almost 100%. From this high engagement level from our school community, it demonstrates we value communicating about student learning. It speaks to how we value face to face communication between teachers and parents/guardians and a desire to develop a support network for each child at iDEC.
A second element is that 94% means our school community values time that is built into our calendar to foster positive relationships between parents/guardians and teachers. Spending time together to have conversations where students are at the centre, is a positive structure toward supporting each students’ learning.
The tremendous turnout for our fall conferences establishes an early connection between home and school that now has the ability to grow and develop. There are many layers of communication between home, school and community at iDEC. The school provides a global view of student learning each week through our weekly E-Bulletin, Twitter posts, hallway TV slides and website updates. Classroom teachers dive deeper with emails to parents/guardians, Freshgrade posts and updates to their Google classrooms. Our playground and hallways provide opportunities for brief conversations and greetings to further emphasize an open, welcoming and caring community. While these are all positive communication structures, the personal connection established through a parent-teacher conference is a significant action early in the school year. It is designed to be a timely and specific source of two-way communication allowing for questions, feedback and actions to move forward.
The greatest statement 94% makes to me is how our high level of parent-teacher engagement is a reflection of every stakeholder’s investment and effort toward student success. Effective communication, the value of relationships, putting students first, effective time management and feeling connected to our school community all play a role in successfully engaging our parents/guardians and staff members. The beginning of 2019-20 is worthy celebration at Caulfeild iDEC, because we have all contributed in achieving a remarkable result to support our students.
Research overwhelmingly supports the concept that student learning is positively affected through effective parent/guardian engagement (see further reading below). Caulfeild iDEC has demonstrated we have started to develop effective structures and supports for our students. This is something I am proud of as a school leader because, it is the result of our whole school community sharing a mission, vision, values and goals. And that is what 94% really means.
P.S. The other good news is, most of the 6% that did not conference last week have already booked an alternate time, or have made arrangements to make these important conversations happen in the coming week.