Parent-Teacher Conferences and PE
Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs) are a great opportunity to share student progress to parents, however it is also a great opportunity to meet parents in-person as well as to provide them an insight into how I run my PE classes. Not from a logistical standpoint, but rather from a philosophical background, whilst avoiding teacher lingo or Eduspeak. I recommend reading this article as well that was shared by our principal. It details things to consider during PTCs.
Before the PTC
We use Calendly to allow parents to book in times. Each teacher's booking link is sent through and parents click the available time slot. As a specialist teacher, our time slots are 10 minutes but I put a 5-minute buffer after each slot in case a parent is late or a session runs over.
I gather evidence for each child giving them each a folder on my laptop in a specific Parent-Teacher Conference file if it's digital. Most work is now digital, saved from Seesaw or on Teams, but any hard copy work is collated as well.
Create a discussion flow
I find this step critical. Considering specialist conferences are only 10 minutes we need to fit in a lot of information in a short amount of time. I created a script of some sort, of which my education philosophy helped provided direction for it. I go into detail of what this looks like in the next section "During the PTC".
I use Evernote regularly for lesson planning, to-do lists, as well as for my own personal use. I highly recommend using it even though I know I have barely scratched the service of what it can do. To go alongside my script I have the student notes in order of what I'm going to say.
I created a rubric for my various talking points. My physical literacy rubric was created with reference from PHE Canada.
I created a specific PTC document that was on display in front of the parents, which I will show in the next section, that helped frame the conversation and kept us on track.
During the PTC
I have my iPad in front of me with Evernote open that contains all my student notes that is available to discuss with parents. My laptop is open and directed towards the parents where student work or videos are shared. Having these two screens means that my notes on my iPad can only be seen by me and there's also no awkward screen dance where parents may see other student work.
The two documents below as well as the laptop with student work are directed towards the parent. I continually refer back to this document below to keep the conversation on track.
After greetings, and a positive note about the relevant child, I came up with this to help start the conference:
"To help with our conversation today about (child's name), we will use this chart as a framework for our discussion. I believe in a holistic approach to PE where we educate the whole child, not just the physical. First, we will look at (child's name) physical domain where we will discuss his/her locomotor, manipulative, and balance skills. These are categories of what we call fundamental movement skills."
It is at this moment where I move their attention to another document on the table. I found this on Google with acknowledgement to the site I found it from being here.
I continued with the script here:
"Locomotor skills include moving from Point A to Point B in different ways, from walking, running, to hopping, and jumping. I will also address (child's name) ability to use objects such as balls, and bats in this blue column of Object Control. Lastly, we will discuss (child's name) ability to maintain balance when changing direction or transferring their weight from one leg to another. All of these skills are fundamental since they are found in most physical activities and sports. Playing a chasing game requires the ability to run and change direction quickly, riding a bike requires balance, playing tennis requires the ability to run, to change direction and to use an object whilst hitting a ball. We need to attempt to develop these skills now in elementary school to have a better chance that (child's name) will have an active and healthy lifestyle as they grow up since they will have the confidence and competence to engage in a variety of activities."
"We will then discuss (child's name) cognitive domain where I look at their understanding of our units as well as their traits, such as perseverance, and emotional management. Lastly, we will discuss (child's name) affective domain which relates to their ability to work in teams and maintain relationships."
Discussing the child
From here we got to discussing the child. I am honest but obviously need to be tactful on how you discuss areas needing attention. I go through their locomotor skills, then object control, and then stability results. Afterwards, we move towards the cognitive domain and this is where evidence is really helpful. I direct attention towards the laptop with the relevant child's file open or to physical evidence. Eventually we move towards the affective domain.
During the conversation there are times where the parent asks question, I answered these, and once the parents were satisfied, I directed their attention back to the Holistic PE chart where we got the conversation back on track.
Concluding the Parent-Teacher Conference
Keeping on time is important during these conferences since you do not want parents to be late for their next meeting, which can cause a flow-on effect for other teachers. If a parent requires more time I advised them to email me to arrange another time. If we got to the end of everything ahead of time I asked if there was anything else they would like to know.
Parent-teacher conferences are an excellent opportunity for parents to put a face to their teachers. Particularly nowadays with COVID it is hard for parents to get on campus, therefore we need to take these opportunities whilst they are still allowed to meet in person. Furthermore, it is a valuable time, particularly as a PE teacher that I demonstrate that there is a method to teaching PE, that it is more than just the physical, but rather that we educate the whole child using a combination of the Holistic PE approach, as well as the IB PYP. As one parent mentioned as he walked out, "I have learned so much today."