I had 36 conferences, ranging in time from ten minutes to an hour. I have thirty five students, but respect that everyone's family situation is a tad different, so one student got two conferences to avoid hostility.
Even the most difficult, which included tears, ended in hugs and hand shakes. I'm glad that (most of) my students' families realize that we are a team. It breaks my heart as well to see them struggle.
There was some confusion with families in terms of when their conferences were held, but in the end, my extreme flexibility and positive attitude won. I held all my conferences before school started on Friday.
I also managed to bite my tongue when one teacher was loudly complaining about the nineteen conferences she had to hold. Yes, nineteen. Almost half the number I had to hold, despite no extra duty pay for having to stay until six pm all week to fit them in. I struggle to respect her work ethic on a good day, but I'm definitely not the person to vent to about conference numbers.
On top of that, I decided to tackle as much grading as possible so I could enjoy my winter break. First semester ends mid January and I want to give my students a retake day. I decided the first Thursday of the school year (Jan 7th) would be that day. Students can come before or after school to retake any summative assessments.
Our grade books are broken into two categories: formative quizzes and quick checks that account for 10% of their overall grade. The remaining 90% comes from summative tests, usually covering a unit and multiple standards. To maximize their opportunity for improvement, I allow them to retake any of these summatives as long as they've put in extra review effort (in the form of online practice on scootpad, which grades assignments for me and shows them how to solve the problems correctly, which is a double win for both parties).
In order to help students know exactly what they should study, I had to finish grading their retakes from their first retake day (December 7th) and update their scores. I encountered a grade book glitch (apparently I can no longer use Chrome to post grades, it has to be Firefox) and struggled to log into the grade book (thank you CCSD internet for your consistently unreliable internet), but managed to get them up to date progress reports on Friday morning before break. Those that wanted to study had break to do so and could take home their notebooks to review. Those that wanted to wait will still have a few days in January to brush up on those skills before retaking assessments.
(This was for a #selfiechallenge and a neighboring teacher had this posted...I self-identified with the drawing!)
While this grading meant for very, very long days last week, I am happily looking at a very short "to do" list for the holidays! I already conquered the math tests, so I have one set of essays to grade. In order to make this challenge tolerable, I'm taking myself to Panera on Tuesday morning. My favorite Panera is conveniently near a large TJ Maxx, Target, the bank, and the mall, so I can knock out some last minute shopping as well. My hope is that Tuesday morning will be significantly less crazy than say, Saturday afternoon.
Despite the additional emotions of a spirit week and winter break, my students did a fairly good job at being on task and learning things.
However, once Friday hit, my main goal was to calm the chaos. We played math games. Some finished typing their essays and making up their missed tests. We got almost to the end of The Lightning Thief, but that's okay because we got almost to the end of the movie version as well! I promised them we'd watch and read the rest on Monday after break, so that'll be a nice transition for them from lazy break to back in school mode.
How did I kick off winter break?
Take out and a nap!