Oxford City Schools has set aside two dates for you and your child to visit your child’s school to participate in our student-led conferences. The first date is November 3rd. On November 3rd, all Oxford City Schools will dismiss early for these conferences. Appointments for these conferences will be made in a joint effort between parents and school staff.

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I want to give you some specific information concerning student-led conferences at Oxford High School. This is very different from the traditional Open House model as the process is completely directed by the student. On Monday October 24th, Oxford High School students will be given a letter explaining student-led conferences to take home to their parents. I want to encourage all parents to read this letter carefully. Our teachers will begin calling parents on October 24th to set up appointments for parents and their child to come to Oxford High School for their student-led conference. We will be making these phone calls from October 24th – October 27th.

It is important to understand that a Student-Led Conference IS NOT a parent/teacher conference. You will not be able to see your child’s teachers during this event. The purpose of a Student-Led Conference is to empower students to take the lead role in communicating their learning. This requires a shift in thinking. Traditionally when parents visit a high school, it is to talk to their child’s teachers. These parent/teacher conferences are encouraged when necessary, and you can certainly have a counselor set up one of these for you. However, this is not what we are doing on November 3rd. This particular day is set aside for Student-Led Conferences. I also want to state clearly that I do not want you to feel that you should not attend because you will not be talking to your child’s teachers. You will be listening to your child take ownership of their data. This event will provide an opportunity for that very powerful conversation between you and your child to take place.

The Role of School Leadership

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As the Principal of Oxford High School, my role concerning Student-Led Conferences is to provide clear communication and logistical assistance. Our administration staff and I have developed a structure for student-led conferences to allow this to be a success. It is imperative that  I emphasize the importance of student-led conferences.

The Role of the Teacher

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Our teachers will create clear expectations and guidelines for student-led conferences and will help students understand and practice their role. Our teachers will help each student create a powerpoint presentation that contains their career/postsecondary educational goals, their data, and what they are doing to achieve their goals. This presentation will also give each student an opportunity to answer four questions about each of their classes. The four questions are

  1. What does my data tell me?
  2. What are my goals?
  3. What are my steps to reaching my goals?
  4. What am I  doing?

The Power of YET

The last slide will discuss the importance of having a growth mindset and the power of YET. The data is what it is, but each student can get better. For example, we do not want our students to excuse poor math data by saying “I am not good at math.” We want students to say, “I am not good at math YET.” There may be some standards that they have not mastered… YET. By having a growth mindset, the student looks past the present product and looks toward the work that they can do during the process of improvement to reach their goals. Growth sometimes is a struggle, but academic growth is a productive struggle. We want students to take ownership of their data and be able to explain their learning process.

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I have the word YET on my desk in my office to remind me every day of the power of that word. Every day, we have an opportunity to get better, to improve, and to grow. At OHS, we want to embrace the power of YET.

 

The Role of the Student

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Students will lead the conference and present their learning to their parents. The student will communicate their learning. We want our students to understand they have control of their education. Think about the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat. When it comes to the student’s education, we want them to be a thermostat. A thermostat sets the temperature. It does not check the temperature. We do not want students to merely stop at looking at their data and take a measurement. We want them to take control of their data, and thus SET the temperature of their learning.

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I have this thermostat and thermometer hanging at my office door so that every time I walk out of my office I am reminded that it is our job to set the temperature. We are always looking at data and numbers. Data is an important part of our job, but we must do more than “check” the numbers. We have to work every day to do the things which cause those numbers to improve. We set the temperature, not just check the temperature.

The Role of the Family

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Parents will attend the conference and pay close attention to the student’s presentation. The success of these student-led conferences depends on all involved to understand and commit to his or her role. That is the great thing about this event, school leaders, parents, and teachers work together to provide an environment where students can present their learning.

We look forward to seeing you on November 3rd!!