Monday, August 20, 2018

Student-Teacher Conferences: Motivation Monday

This post does contain one affiliate link -- to

Welcome to Day One of the 5 Days of Back to (Home)School Encouragement! Blog Hop!  I'm getting a late start, as I had a long weekend.  I plan to post a bit about THAT on Thursday.

Today, though, the topic is motivation, and sometimes it really is hard to find any of that, especially for high school.  This seemed like a perfect time to share about something that really did change our schooling.

The history:

A few years back, probably eight years, this household was gearing up to be starting high school.  That was a scary time, as somehow it all seemed so much more real and important than everything we had done before.  It is and it isn't.  But that isn't the point of this post.

A comment by William about learning modern history led to a return to Sonlight!
I had kids who were 13, 12, 10, 6 and 4.  Eighth grade, sixth grade, fourth grade, first grade and preschool.

One thing I really felt I needed to do was to get some sort of high school plan into place.  Connor's input was important to me, but every time I tried to have a conversation with him about high school, I'd have a younger sibling interrupting.  Out of total frustration, and a quick, "God, help me make this conversation happen!" I announced that the following weekend, Connor & I were going grocery shopping ALONE and that we'd be going to Starbucks as well, to sit and have a discussion about high school.  Dale could hold down the fort without us.

That was the most brilliant high school homeschool decision I ever made.

Richard really wanted this.. and we'll be joining CAP as a result
What happened that day was really great.  Connor and I had an uninterrupted conversation about his plans and thoughts.  We kept it mostly low-tech, with notepads and pens, and occasionally looking something up on the laptop.  I was able to communicate my requirements for high school graduation, and he was able to communicate what he wanted to learn about, and maybe a hint of what he wanted to do in life.

I thought I was just doing a one-time thing, having a conversation with my teen away from everyone.

Instead, I was beginning a tradition. 

Since then, generally twice a year (January and sometime over the summer), it is Student-Teacher Conference time.  We pick somewhere to go and get some food or a drink, and I typically go from oldest to youngest, doing one-on-one time with each high school student, or soon-to-be high school student (mid-8th grade is really the "official" start).  We've been to Starbucks, Subway, the Rush Cafe, Cold Stone Creamery, Village Inn, Dickie's Barbecue... and I'm sure I've forgotten some.

"Architecture would be interesting."  SchoolhouseTeachers to the rescue!
Basically, we go somewhere we wouldn't normally go, at an off time when they aren't usually busy, and we hang out for a couple of hours.  We go over what courses are already on their transcript, or are in progress.  I have a map of the graduation requirements for Brinkman Academy.  We talk about what we need to do in the coming two semesters, and some tentative ideas for the time after the next year.  

The biggest thing is we talk electives.  And I hear things like, "I'd love an apologetics class."  Or, "Could I get some serious audiobooks?"  Or "I really would love some animation and film courses."  Or, "I want to study aviation."

What do my kids think?  

Thomas wants to go into film.  That meant I jumped at this course!
They think this is great too.  They like knowing what is expected of them, and they like being able to help figure out what they do -- or do not -- have time to add in.  They like the one-on-one time, focused on what is best for them, and not necessarily having to be doing the compromise thing.

When I asked them about Student-Teacher Conferences and their thoughts, every single one of them (both graduates, both high school students, and the 7th grader) was enthusiastic.  I heard words like productive and beneficial.  I heard helpful from almost everyone.  They all said it is something we have to continue to do.

I start with my junior or senior so that we can hammer out a schedule for him.  What does he need in the next one or two years?  Then I do this with my sophomore or freshman.  What courses is he taking with his big brother?  What else do we need to figure out?  On the years I have an eighth grader, I start doing this with him (next year, it will be with HER).  That one tends to be a lot more big picture, plus a lot of ideas for electives.

Why did I choose this as a post for Motivation Monday?  Three things, I think:
  1. These Student-Teacher Conferences inspire me tremendously.
  2. My kids getting serious input into school motivates them a lot too.
  3. Maybe this isn't what your homeschool needs, but you can stumble into something that is a game-changer for you.

Go check out some of the other posts in this hop!  There is a linky at the bottom, and here are a few of the folks who planned to be posting:

Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama
Marla @ Jump Into Genius
Meredith @ Powerline Productions: Being World Changers/Raising World Changers
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through The Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling


Annette said...

I like it... what an excellent tradition. :)

Cassandra Holdeman said...

What a great way to get ideas from your students! I chatted with each of my students this year to get an idea of what they wanted, but how much more fun would it be to have a special date to discuss this.

Jennifer said...

What a great plan! I treasure one on one time with each of mine.

Rodna Jean Allman said...

That is a great idea! It's funny how different our posts are when your talking about older kids and i'm talking about preschool! lol