I divide each school year into three periods. The first starts in September and continues until our schoolâ€™s Parent Conferences in November. At these meetings I share with families all the important projects, activities, and assessments the kids have completed up to that point. The second period runs from November until early March. Since our school only schedules one round of Parent Conferences each year, I schedule Student-led Conferences at the end of this period so that parents have another opportunity to see the important things their children are learning in class. (I describe Student-led Conferences in detail in Teaching Tips #20-#22.)
A few years ago I developed a new initiative to guide my studentsâ€™ work over the final months of the school year, and Iâ€™m very pleased to share it with you this week. I call it "The Quality Certification Project,â€ and itâ€™s loosely modeled on the National Board Certification process I went through several years ago.
For those of you unfamiliar with this process, National Board Certification is a voluntary, year-long endeavor, in which teachers seek to improve their practices by completing a portfolio of work. As part of the portfolio, I videotaped class lessons and wrote a series of essays, in which I described class instructional units and reflected on my teaching methods and strategies. The main philosophy that underscores the entire project is that teachers will realize the greatest improvement in their practice when they participate in a process that is based on their everyday work, includes demanding goals, offers opportunities for reflection, and calls for hard work and perseverance.
With the Quality Certification Project my goal is to take the spirit of the National Board Certification Process and give my students similar types of opportunities. In next weekâ€™s Teaching Tip I will describe the portfolio requirements that I ask my students to meet and the levels of proficiency that participating students need to be attain.
New Teaching Tips appear every Sunday of the school year.