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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Templates Matter

I love templates.  I love creating them, and even more, I love it when they afford great learning.  This year, as our whānau conferences were approaching, I reviewed our 'goal setting' template that we usually used and thought - does this afford me, the advantages of getting to know my families better?
The current template, was a google presentation, that I completed with the students over a series of lessons in which we set goals for Reading, Writing, Maths and one personal.  On the night, students embarrassingly and cringe-ing-ly (I have Year 7s and 8s) whizzed through their goals and then I asked "Any questions?"  It seemed like a success because after all - the students had done the most talking and they were goals formed with students.  However, I couldn't help but notice the parents nodding with the look in their eyes of "I have no idea what R4 in Structure in Language means and I don't know what using multiplicative strategies has to do with algorithms."

It was a bit of a we tell you what's best for your kids, using the kids as the mouth piece.  This was the template we used prior to the graduate profile.

So after a conversation with a colleague at the end of 2016, I was encouraged to visit the Ministry website and look for 'Graduate Profiles' - so this idea isn't particularly 'new' but you see new things when you have new lenses on, and this year my lenses are heavily focusing in on strengthening relationships with Māori parents and students in my class.

It's the participation of the whānau, student and teacher that we know as educators can help promote great learning and achievement.

So I created the beginnings of our Graduate Profile in the form of a Y-chart.  We had our school goals on one side, the student goals at the top and the whānau goals on the other side.  I had never had such enriching conversations with parents at whānau conferences before.  One family, of which I have taught three of their children over the last 9 years - tells me we're from the same marae.  How did I not know that sooner?  I had never asked.  The template we used never afforded that kind of connection.

I think what I came away with, was that feeling of win/win - I got my needs and wants across and the families felt they had contributed to the goals and aspirations of their child.  My conferences took the longest - so I suppose, it's how you weigh up effort for outcome... for me, it balanced out because although I was the last teacher to leave, I felt that I had engaged more authentically with the parents of my students than in previous classes.

If you wanted to have a look at the template I can find it by clicking here.

If you have your own templates - please share!  I'd love to see what else is going on out there and how you feel they are working for you and extending conversations with your families.  I can always improve on my practice...and templates!

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