How are IVA's conferences different than other types of conferences?
IVA Intellectual Character Conferences promote a deep understanding of a students' intellectual character rather than focus only on specific assignments, assignment grades, or due dates. Grades and assignments are important interactions in class that give students regular feedback. This grade-based feedback is best communicated through classroom-based interactions, and also through our Office Hours schedule, Google Classroom, and Illuminate.
IVA conferences serve instead to focus on a big picture application of thinking practices and consider the students' relationship to learning through one particular class with one teacher representing and another teacher helping make the connection for how the approach applies to other classes. These conferences help the team to explore together how each students' mind works by discussing their intellectual virtue practice and common patterns of thinking or learning. The protocol of conference allows students, parents, and teachers to connect to support the student's goals for learning together. Conferences allow students to be seen and known.
Intellectual Character Conferences require the student. Conferences are conducted in 20 minute time slots set aside with a specific protocol intended to:
- Empower students to talk about their approach to learning in school in a safe and comfortable conversation with parents and teachers.
- Help students, parents, and teachers use a common language when describing strengths and areas of growth.
- Discuss practical implications of intellectual virtue practice in school.
PROTOCOL 6th & 7th Grade: Each member of the group responds to the following questions in a round with the student responding first, then parent(s), then teacher(s). These questions are posed to the student and the other participants will validate, provide details, and possible suggestions to help the student move toward their own goals.
- What intellectual virtue do you feel like you practice naturally or that you’ve seen yourself grow recently? How does that show up in your learning?
- What intellectual virtue do you want to grow in? How would those qualities show up in your learning?
- What other concerns do you have?
PROTOCOL 8th Grade: Each member of the group responds to the following questions in a round with the student responding first, then parent(s), then teacher(s). These questions are posed to the student and the other participants will ask for clarification, validate, provide details, and possible suggestions to help the student move toward their own goals.
- In the last three years, what intellectual virtue practices have you seen yourself grow in and what do you want to focus on for continued growth in your intellectual character?
- What has been your relationship to learning in middle school and how do you anticipate that might continue and be challenged in high school?
- What are other areas of interest or concern?
A sample conversation might be like the following - If a student says that he has seen himself grow in intellectual thoroughness, then the team can celebrate that and ask him helpful follow up questions so that the student can describe his own practices. A teacher or parent might ask, "What makes you say that you have grown in intellectual thoroughness?" "Does this practice show up in only one class or in other classes as well?" "Do you notice in what sorts of situations you best practice intellectual thoroughness? At home? At school? Only in English?" By being able to describe his thinking and respond to questions that are prompted by his own self-assessment, the team supports the students' understanding of his own strengths. In fact, as a team there can be much awareness made for teacher and parent about what sort of practices and supports are working best for the student.
Another student might also say that the virtue they want to grow in is curiosity because she is aware that she wants to ask more questions about the content and in that way have more intellectual tenacity to stick with the learning because she begins to care about it. The team can through follow up questions and strategizing together help her choose her own personal goals. The team might ask - how would a practice of curiosity in the ways we have thought of together help you be able to have a deeper understanding of the content or communication of that understanding for the grades? Or, put more simply, how can your challenge to ask a question once during each class help you to be more connected to the content.
These examples might seem like ideal conversation scenarios, but students (and adults alike) are eager to describe their minds and patterns of thinking, especially in a safe setting with a clear protocol. Students can track their own intellectual character growth when they are given the language to describe their thinking practices through the intellectual virtues, the time and support from parent and teacher to consider what that practice looks like, and through the progression of the questions, a belief in their own ability to growth as a learner. Our conferences are in line with our values and equip students to know themselves and engage their own learning with curiosity and thoughtfulness. Conferences also help students to experience a challenging and supportive academic environment where positive conversation can help both teacher and parent support meaningful growth. These conferences benefit all students.
To see a reflection on how we've grown into this conference protocol read more here. IVA organizes conferences based on grade level with 6th grade conferences towards the beginning of the year, 7th grade conferences after the first semester report card is released, and 8th grade conferences toward the end of the school year to reflect on the transition to high school.
For your convenience, IVA uses an online system to sign up for conferences. If you have any trouble signing up for a conference, call our office.