6 Rules to Break for Better, Deeper-Learning Outcomes

As educators, we know when students tune in — and we know when they tune out. The more elusive question is why. There is emerging consensus that the 20th-century approach to education, which favors methods such as lectures and rote learning, is standing in the way of making school relevant to more students.

Fortunately, research is catching up with our intuition and validating the practices that we know work in the classroom. One vision in particular, about what students should be able to do and know, is picking up steam. It’s called deeper learning.

Why Students Should Take the Lead in Parent-Teacher Conferences

The following is an excerpt from “Deeper Learning How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century,” by Monica R. Martinez and Dennis McGrath.

A particularly vivid example of putting students in the driver’s seat of their own education is the way they handle what traditional schools refer to as parent-teacher conferences. At these time-honored encounters, it’s not uncommon for students to stay home while the adults discuss their progress or lack thereof. But at schools built on Deeper Learning principles, the meetings are often turned into student-led conferences, with students presenting their schoolwork, while their teachers, having helped them prepare, sit across the table, or even off to the side. The triad then sits together to review and discuss the work and the student’s progress. The message, once again, is that the students are responsible for their own success.

The specific dynamics of these conferences vary widely. At California’s Impact Academy, three or four different sets of students and their families meet simultaneously, as teachers circulate through the room, making sure parents are getting their questions answered, and only intervening if the student is struggling. Yet in all cases, the basic spirit is the same: this is the student’s moment to share his or her reflections on achievements and challenges.