Monday, October 27, 2014

Don't Miss Out on This Important Conversation

I am posting early this week to remind you about parent teacher conferences that will be occurring the next two days. Traditionally we have had really good participation, and I am hopeful that this trend will continue. To remind everyone, conferences will be held today and tomorrow from 3:30-7:30. 

It is our hope that with Hudson being well into the second quarter of the school year, you have already had the chance to visit with you child's teacher prior to conferences. Perhaps you have communicated with an email exchange, a phone call, or another meeting. We value the input that you are able to bring to bear and truly hope that you take advantage of conferences tonight or tomorrow night.

While we hope parent teacher conferences aren't the first interaction you have had with you child's teacher this year, the parent teacher conference is a twice in a school year opportunity to engage your child's teacher in a private dialogue about their learning. Few 'built in' chances exist that formalize this type of conversation. Often times you can provide valuable information about your child's learning habits or provide specific strategies that can prove useful to the child's teacher. 

In addition to this, teachers can often provide insight into the academic progress that your child is making in school. They might be able to provide you with additional tips and advice into the types of instructional strategies that are being employed in the classroom and suggest ways in which to help your child further their learning. 

Parent teacher conferences should be viewed as a partnership! Use this conference as a chance to ask questions about your student's progress. You can count on teachers asking questions about your child in an effort to get to know them better and to further their learning. We understand that conferences can be at times stressful for all parties involved, but I assure you this shouldn't be viewed as a 'gotcha' moment. If there are uncomfortable issues that arise during the course of your conversation, we certainly hope this isn't the first time that you hear about them. Our goal is the same as your goal--student success in school!

Here are a few tips of advice provided by Mr. Schlatter that should help you to have a successful and enjoyable conference experience:
  1. Be honest and open.
  2. Focus on the student's strengths, yet address areas of concern.
  3. Be as specific as you can in your comments.
  4. Ask for and listen for opinions and suggestions (from both the parents perspective and the teachers perspective).
  5. As the conference ends, summarize and review any specific actions that you have decided to take. If necessary, schedule a follow up meeting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The High School Mulligan

High school should be a time that permits students to explore and experience the multitude of opportunities a school system has to offer. We have long celebrated all that is 'the high school experience' as a truly unique aspect of the American education system. In part, we recognize the idea that not all education takes place within the four walls of the classroom and that there are many valuable lessons and life skills that can be learned through a diverse and rich inter-scholastic and extra/co-curricular program of offerings.

Once this very short time period is over, many will never again have the chance to participate in a team sport, sing in the choir, or be part of a student government organization. Decades have passed since I was a high school student, and while I have no desire to return to my adolescence, I sometimes wish that I might have taken advantage of one more opportunity. But, there are no do-overs in high school, and you can't un-ring the schoolhouse bell.

As we come to the end of the first quarter of instruction (I know, crazy right?) I am reminded of the plethora of activities that are available to our students. Not only that, I am impressed with the amount of participation that we have in these outstanding activities! (No doubt, in part due to the fantastic staff of coaches and moderators we have.) Last week was an amazing week filled with student activity and I was overjoyed to see so many students participating in multiple events! From the volleyball game Tuesday night, to the concert Thursday night, and the football game on Friday night, I kept seeing many of the same faces. But yet, I would like to see even more participation. In fact, I would love to see some of our students who might not be involved in any activities take a chance and try something new. It would be a shame if 20 years from now you looked back and stated, "I sure wish I would have joined the band when I was in high school."

For those of you that are involved in so many activities, keep it up! Your involvement in these activities will form memories that will last a lifetime. I am impressed with your stamina, dedication, and willingness to try new things! A senior recently told me that this was their last year to try some new things, and he is certainly taking advantage!

We also have youngsters right now who are deeply engaged in highly competitive scholastic activities such as the Lego League, Robotics, and FFA. These activities provide our students with access to the very highly competitive and much needed STEM fields where we know the jobs of the future will reside. I am thrilled that we have so many students finding a place in our school that will nurture these interests.

As stated above, it has been decades since I have been in high school. While I have no desire to return, I do sometimes think, "If I only knew then what I know now". There most certainly are activities, events, and clubs that I wish I had been involved in. Unfortunately there aren't any mulligans in high school. So students, please make the best of your experience. I highly doubt that someday you will say you, "Boy, I wish I never would have decided to be in the musical".