Elementary Students Reflect on their learning and set goals

Elementary Students Take Ownership of Their Learning

How wonderful to see so many Elementary Parents on campus last week for Goal Setting Conferences (GSC). Dr. Jimena Zalba, Elementary Associate Principal, shared that the aim of GSC is to provoke inquiry and reflection.

From Early Childhood Foundations to Grade 5, students are encouraged to create goals in areas where they feel they need to improve. They document this thinking and prepare related samples of their work as evidence. During the conference, students express how they feel about their learning, share areas of success as well as areas of challenge. In preparing for the GSC, teachers guide learners to heighten their thinking throughout the process.

“Parents see what you learn at school and what you can do. ” Felix, Grade 3

For us the purpose of setting goal conferences is a component of our system of communicating and reporting learning. During the Goal Setting Conferences, the children share with their parents where they are in their learning and how they will go further. The students have the agency and ownership of their learning to talk to parents about where they’re at, and who they are as learners.” Dr. Jimena Zalba, Elementary Associate Principal

As Dr. Zalba stated earlier, GSC embodies a key Learning Principle at ISP, which is “learners know where they’re at and how to get further.” This aligns with an IB standard and practice that goes across the PYP, MYP and DP: Students take ownership of their learning by setting challenging goals and pursuing personal inquiries.

As students get older and go into Middle School and eventually Upper School, they will already have an excellent foundation for being independent learners, who reflect on how they’re doing and what steps they need to take to take themselves to the next level. These skills will become especially important during the International Baccalaureate Program, and in the workplace after they graduate. ISP wants to set up learners for life.

“I can reflect how I changed in the beginning of the year unti now.” Fin, Grade 3

Beyond the students themselves, these conferences provide an opportunity for parents to connect on a deeper level with their child’s teacher and build a greater understanding of the ISP community and our approach to learning.

During these times of parents’ limited access to ISP classrooms, teachers and parents both expressed their gratitude to meet in person. Parents are partners with teachers in ensuring a successful learning journey for their children. Continuing with this key event in person and in each child’s classroom strengthened this partnership with parents getting more insight into the learning progress of their children.

“The Goal Setting Conferences were a success – a success because children were visibly proud as they shared their learning, goals, plans for moving forward, and classrooms with their parents. 

The conferences were also a success because parents felt welcomed into the building. 

One new parent, filled with emotion, told me it was her first time to see inside the school. She asked if she could just look around the classroom and kept smiling (as much as one can see a smile behind a mask).” Dr. Cindy Vega, Elementary School Principal

A heartwarming interaction we witnessed was when one parent came into the classroom, and had never been in the school before. She was new, and when she finally was able to see it, she only wanted to walk around the classroom and look at the walls. For this parent, who had come from a different system of learning, she didn’t truly understand how it worked here at ISP. She came in and her eyes were shining with joy. The teacher took that opportunity and began the conference with the child by looking at and discussing the walls of the classroom. This is only one example of the great reactions that parents had to the conferences. Many were saying “I learnt a lot!” and had big smiles on their faces by the end. 

“I reflected on my learning throughout the year and set a goal for myself in Math, Reading, Writing and UoI.” Johanka, Grade 3