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French Academy students join conferences with their parents

Published: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 10:09 a.m. CDT

DECATUR (MCT) - Parent-teacher conferences at French Academy are actually parent-teacher-student conferences.

At French, the student not only participates but is expected to lead the discussion.

"Shanyah, tell your mom about the reading test you took," said Nicole Genet, Shanyah's third-grade teacher, pushing a folder toward her.

Shanyah Green readily opened the folder and showed her mother, Sheena Anderson, a graph with the scores of her reading and math tests. With a little help from Genet, who explained the significance of the scores and also spoke warmly of Shanyah's good behavior and willingness to work hard in school, Shanyah talked to her mom about what she's learning this year.

Anderson said she heartily agrees with having Shanyah actively participate.

"It makes her take responsibility for herself," Anderson said.

Principal Rolanda McKenzie said she wants her students to be accountable for their grades and behavior.

"All of our students have a data book, and that incorporates all their universal assessments as well as their behavior," she said. "That data allows them to focus on what they need to do different."

Their teachers meet one-on-one with the students first and ask the student to set goals for themselves. If the student doesn't meet the goal, teachers help them figure out what to focus on to improve and ask them to make a new, more realistic goal.

"We want them to buy into making a decision," McKenzie said. "Then, we thought it's time our kids lead the conversation about what they're learning, what are their goals, with their parents, and why their behavior is not where it should be."

"I think it's absolutely amazing," teacher Theressa Tozer said of having the kids participate. "The kids start to take ownership and make goals and see the progress they're making.

"It means something totally different when you have a child sitting there and looking at their parents and telling them how they're doing and seeing the pride in their faces and listening to them explain it. I can show them, but it's totally different when you see the parent and child working together."

(c)2013 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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