Brian Wharton

2016 File Photo — Brian Wharton is the Yelm Community Schools superintendent.

Across the district, students and teachers are preparing for conferences April 1 through April 3. Spring conferences offer a powerful and compelling opportunity to show the extent to which students have grown so far this year and to create new goals for growth in learning. Spring conferences are made even more powerful when students take a leadership role in their own conferences. 

At all levels, the focus of conferences should be on growth and achievement. Our youngest learners need to be able to articulate, with assistance from teachers, the progress they have made in reading, math, science and social-emotional learning. Data representing that growth should also be present at conferences. It is a wonderful experience for students to demonstrate their “best works” so far this year. Students grow faster when they are able to explain their own learning.

Our older learners may try to convince their parents not to invest the time engaging in conferencing. I strongly urge parents to take a powerful and productive role in the conversation. At the middle and high school levels, conferences are centered firmly around the course selection and the development of the High School and Beyond Plan. In grades 6-12 there are also critical learning opportunities for families to learn about funding post-graduation education through College Bound and the Washington College Grant programs. 

As students get older, it is critical that they take the lead in spring conferences. 

Students should be able to talk about their growth toward learning standards and to clearly work with their family on goal-setting and future planning. Again, our teachers and administrators should be working very hard to provide families with data that supports the conversation. 

We look forward to seeing all our parents at spring conferences. They are a fantastic opportunity to show the progress made this year, and at the same time, talk energetically about future possibilities. Our seniors will also be talking with their parents about the last pieces of their high school education and their post graduation plans. It is our future hope that we involve the community at a higher level in our seniors presenting their post graduation dreams and ideas. Exciting stuff!

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Brian Wharton is superintendent of Yelm Community Schools.

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