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Student Goal Setting Conference: The New Parent-Teacher Conference

Student Goal Setting Conference: The New Parent-Teacher Conference

Students setting their own goal is said to be one the first steps in making a dream or wish into a reality–and having agency in those goals makes all the difference. 

RCSD’s new Student Goal Setting Conference format is in place of what we’ve previously referred to as Parent-Teacher Conferences that are typically held further into fall.

“With a focus on centering instruction and the classroom experience on students, their learning, and their engagement, the Student Goal Setting Conference is designed to uplift children as the main stakeholders of their education,” explains Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Anna Herrera.

“The process develops student agency through reflection and revision, instilling a growth mindset toward academic development.”

As the school district begins this shift in the focus of conferences from “reporting” to “goal setting”, the first steps are for students to select a grade level standard for their focus this fall, and discuss it with their teacher and family at the October conference. The progress report that will be sent home in November will include an update on strides made toward that specific goal. 

Though there will be many similarities to  our prior conference experiences in this new format, such as receiving student work samples and viewing informational data such as i-Ready assessment results, there are also a few key shifts in a Student Goal Setting Conference vs a traditional conference.

Goal Setting at the TK-5 Level:

Student and family participation is highly encouraged at the elementary level. Families will be asked to think about what goals they have in mind for their student, such as hopes for student growth or what they are most excited about this school year.

Most of the conference conversation will involve students discussing their thoughts and reflections on their learning, focusing at first on just one goal. Because not all students may be accustomed to taking such an active role in conferences, student input can be either through discussion or via examples of their work. 

Teachers will provide additional information about the student’s current progress and strengths. The conference will cover the work that will take place in the classroom and also suggestions for how the family can support the student in reaching the goal at home.

Goal Setting Conferences for Middle School:

Setting goals, in addition to qualities such as perseverance, motivation, and planning, is a beneficial academic habit that influences learning. 

During the October Student Goal Setting Conference, students will present some initial goals together with a self-assessment of their academic ‘behaviors’, incorporating a consideration of their strengths, areas for growth, supports, and assignment/classwork progress. This is the result of a series of lessons and learning activities that will take place in middle school classrooms over a six week period. Students will have explored what learning means to them and how their beliefs and actions impact their experience. 

Teachers and parents will ask questions and provide feedback focused on clarifying the goals students wish to achieve and exploring students’ plans to achieve their goals.

  • What makes this goal meaningful to you?

  • How would you describe your past performance in relation to this goal?

  • What represents your personal best in this context?

  • How will accomplishing this goal be helpful to you?

  • What criteria will you use to determine your success in achieving this goal?

  • What obstacles might hinder your progress toward this goal? 

  • What support do you think you need to reach this goal?

The Student Goal Setting Conferences shift the conversation to identifying student strengths and assets rather than deficits. This shift in philosophy and practice is integral to the support of the implementation of the  RCSD Learner Framework and the District’s focus on student agency and achievement.

Mark your calendar! The Student Goal Setting Conferences will take place October 23-27.