Learners Taking Ownership
When learners take responsibility for sharing their learning during meetings, the increased accountability moves the learner from passive recipient of information shared between teacher and parent, to active participant in a three-way interaction. In learner-led meetings, the teacher takes on a much less active role during the meeting and acts solely as the facilitator of the discussion if needed.
Prior to the meeting, learners must be adequately prepared and provided with guidelines for the meeting. It cannot be assumed that learners will possess the self-confidence, organizational skills, and communication skills necessary to lead a successful meeting. To help learners gain confidence, set up role-play situations, provide learners with forms, prompts, and the necessary time to collect, prepare, interpret and reflect on the information they will share with parents. Both teachers and peers should provide feedback to assist learners in improving their presentations and collected information.
Learner-led meetings provide an excellent opportunity for learners to share the contents of portfolios and to explain why each piece was selected for inclusion. Learners can point to specific work that reflects the grades they’ve received such as scoring guides from project work, test scores, homework assignments, pieces of writing showing the writing process, class participation and collaboration checklists, as well as the number and types of missing assignments. Learners can also share learning goals, accomplishments, strengths, and areas needing improvement.
After the meeting is complete, provide forms for parents to assess the effectiveness of the meeting and ask learners to reflect on the process. This feedback can prove to be invaluable in assessing how well learners are progressing in taking ownership of their learning and how well the meeting structure is working for parents.
Schools employing the learner-led meeting model note that parent attendance at meetings has increased (Hackmann, 1996) and assert that over 90% of parents and learners prefer the learner-led meeting. Learners report increased self-confidence and personal satisfaction with being directly involved in the meeting. Parents begin to recognize their children's ability to assume increasing levels of responsibility and appreciate the opportunity to strengthen the lines of communication with their children. Citing a more positive and relaxed meeting atmosphere, teachers report a reduced meeting preparation workload and diminished levels of teacher stress during meetings (Hackmann, 1996).
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