One Sunflower

November conferences

on November 8, 2009

It’s November:  conference time at school.  Each student in our program has a dossier of reports that we fill out in anticipation of these visits with the families.  These reports are a compilation of conversations with the families about their child, questionnaires filled out  by both the parents and teacher and anecdotal records of the child’s experiences in school.  It is my responsibility to collate this information into a report we call the ILP – the Individualized Learning Plan. 

The components of the ILP are as follows:

  1. The initial ILP which consists of a record of my conversations with the parents at our first home visit.  There are 4 main questions we discuss at that first meeting:  a) What are your child’s current strengths and interests?  b) What are the goals you have for your child?   c) Do you have any health concerns for your child?  d) What are your family goals?  
  2. A report form that compiles all the information we have gathered so far.  The report is divided into 4 sections.  The first section is a list of the people who have contributed information which usually includes the parents via conversations and the questionnaires they have filled out on their child.  The teacher and any other staff member who have contributing information are also listed.  The next section has 3 topics and guiding questions to sort the information.  The first group are about positive social-emotional skills, the second group is about acquiring and using knowledge, the third group is about taking appropriate action to meet needs.  There are boxes to record the person who was the source of the information and the means through which it was gathered – whether it was a screening tool, assessment, conversation or anecdotal evidence.
  3. The third paper in this document is the working ILP where the teacher lists actual objectives for the student in the categories of “literacy,” “social emotional awareness,” and “other.”  There is a place for the teacher to describe the support the student will receive towards this goal and boxes to record progress through out the year.  If a child achieves a ‘4’ then a new objective is written. Objectives can be added throughout the year as needed.   At the bottom there is a list of other supports the student might be receiving such as special education a place for check marks.

The entire report is probably 6 pages long.  The hardest part is compiling the data and listing it on the report in order to substantiate what the child knows so far.  Input from the parents is crucial in helping to pinpoint a child’s status and support the choices made for learning objectives. 

The conference is the time to share this report with the families.  But early childhood conferences in my district are not limited to this work.  The teachers must also use this time to continue gathering information from the family about any other supports they need to maintain a healthy environment and family life.  The teacher is expected to be the conduit for resource and referral.

My job becomes more complicated because I need my aide as a translator for most of my conferences which usually last at least an hour.  This means there are 2 staff members needed for each of these meetings and these family members often work until 4 or later and don’t get hours for lunch breaks.  My aide and I have been working pretty steadily the past week to contact parents and schedule these meetings.  Some of them have signed up for the usual half hour conferences that the school plans during the week before Thanksgiving but I will probably be needing to meet with most people again to cover all that is required of me.

I will feel a whole lot better come December break when I have all of this behind me.  My first conferences are tomorrow.  I’ve got the paperwork ready but I need to get my head in gear as well for conducting these conversations.

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