How to turn a student-led conference into a student-centered celebration

[♪Pop, pop, pop, pop video♪]>>Okay, are you ready to start?>>I’m ready.>>Okay. Hi, I’m Morgan. This is my project/conference about me past, present, and future. Kind of just as an intro for the past, we
chose one artifact that shows strength in us. I chose my Science Fair project. This year, my goal was to work on self-advocacy. And one thing that stood out in that category was asking for help because sometimes I don’t exactly get the grades that I want because I don’t get the help that I need. So, I kept a log in my planner and every
Monday, well, every Monday that we could, we put those results into a chart or a log. Overall, I just think that there’s
been a lot of progress in that area. I talked to Ms. Anderson about this
the other day about switching over to a new part of self-advocacy which is doing stuff independently and not just asking for help because I
think that I’ve really just overall done really great in that category. I think that my goal reflection is just— I can’t really put it into words. It’s just really, really meaningful to
me because this is a really big goal that I wanted to set in sixth grade and I really didn’t get there because I was shy in sixth grade, if you can imagine that.>>The actress on stage, no, I can’t.>>Actually, that proves that I’ve
overall just been more confident, and now, I don’t know if you know,
but my part this year in the musical is this wild person, crazy personality. It just shows that I’m just getting better at just being myself and that’s really meaningful to me.>>Cool. It sounds like you’ve pushed yourself
outside of your comfort zone enough times and experienced success with that, that you’re feeling a little safer taking those risks.>>Yeah. I just feel more like myself. Even though I was just like this,
what are you gonna do this year, it just really made me feel like I’m
getting to where I’m supposed to be. Even though I’m just in seventh grade, it’s just really beneficial to see how I’ve grown over the year. From my first conference, I was a little shy. My second one, I was like, okay, I’m getting there. Now, I’m pretty fluently talking about my work. It’s really great for me to see.>>Cool.>>Do you want to call on me?>>As long as you don’t make us all cry this time.>>I’m already crying.>>I think you’re spot on. I think that some of the words that we used are empowered, that you feel empowered that you have the
confidence to speak up for yourself. That’s something that we see at home, too. Then there comes the delicate balance of that, of doing that with grace so you’re not
just steamrolling over other people, but you seem to have a nice balance of that. I think, Morgan, the fact that you’re connecting that as
a learner to that as a person, that’s really important. I think self-advocacy will continue
to come and develop with confidence, so when I read your body language, I still
see a little bit of a raised eyebrow like, “Mom, I hate to interrupt you, but I have to have XYZ.” I think that’ll just continue to emerge
as you feel a little more confident. I think it’s great that you’re expressing that at school and being more independent and self-advocating at school because it is super hard to do that with one
mom, one adult in the house and four kids. It’s like, “Oh, I don’t wanna bother her. She
just sat down for the first time today.” But I think just continuing to do that and continuing to say what it is that you need. I think that’s emerging, so that’s great.>>Thanks. One project that we did in ELA that connects to our future me, which we’re getting to later on, but it was called a resume. I’m sure that you’ve heard of it
because you’ve had to reach a bunch.>>Right one, we all have.>>We made one just to see what it’s
like to go through the process. I have mine with me if you want to see it.>>I have not seen your resume yet.>>I just talked about our achievements,
what we have done in life, and just things that we’re proud of and our skills.>>What were some of the highlights on there?>>One thing that I’m really proud
of, I explained that yesterday, but it was my leadership award thing that I got in February. It was just really nice to be
recognized for something that you do that you really try hard to do.>>Did you tell your mom about the award? I’m sure that came up.
>>Oh yeah, that came up.>>Just making sure, okay. I think it was on 100% positivity, being a positive role model. Sorry, I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything like that.>>There’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn.>>Sorry.
>>Okay.>>Also, I didn’t explain this yesterday and
it doesn’t really connect back to my learning, but it’s just like I got a red ribbon in my choir thing. It signifies that you’ve reached the
highest level that you can be in singing.>>That’s awesome.
>>That was really big for me. And one thing that connects it back to
school is not really an achievement but more of just like community service. We did this at the very beginning of the year, we did this community service or I think
it was like fieldtrips and fundraising.>>We call them community groups.>>Yeah, community groups. I was really happy because I got my first
choice of community service for that group. We just got to explore different ideas of how to help people. Then after that, we joined or we had this
leadership community service group, sorry. It was just great to see that we are helping the community, and even though I didn’t get to see their faces when we dropped off their gifts and their Thanksgiving baskets, it was just great to think that we’re helping
somebody who can’t have that help right now. Also, we did this fieldtrip and planning committee thing. We got to plan out each of the fieldtrips. That was great and that was fun, too.>>Morgan, I would say I have not seen this resume before. What a fantastic life skill to have and to inventory yourself in this way is really cool. I love that this is part of your seventh
grade work, I’m really impressed. I love the headers. If I translate this into what I do as a job, and a lot of what I do is hire seasonal
staff for the Parks Department, I look at these every day, and really what I sort through is education that’s important for me to know, but what I want to know is about the person. Because I can teach most people anything in a specific job skill, but what you can’t teach are those intangible, right? Those things that are just born in you
and not you develop and you exude like hard work, like kindness, like being
inquisitive, like wanting to help people. I think those things and the leadership
that you have and the confidence, those are really essential life
skills, job skills, education skills. I love seeing that that’s kind of in black and white on a piece of paper for you to take stock in. Spot on, I love all of those things. I think you being in this situation that you’re in with one working parent and four kiddos, we don’t always have the money that we
want to do everything we want to do, so sometimes it’s a choice of is that a need or a want. When you get to things like getting back to the
community and your community service pieces, that’s even more meaningful for you because
you’ve been on the receiving end of that, recently being gifted a big chunk
of money to go to a course camp. That helps you make that connection and relate to, “Yeah, what are the things that I can give myself?” It’s not always money, sometimes it’s time or it’s talent. And so I think the fact that you have that already
really firm in who you are is really a special gift. When I look at your present, and I know it’s a play on words, because this is where you are, but you are the present. You are the gift to all of us.>>Really?>>Really, really.>>That segues in what I wanted to
say even thinking about your goal and thinking about your resume, I appreciate it. Yesterday, we did a practice round at night time and Morgan volunteered to practice her conference. I knew that she’s gonna talk a little
bit about that character award. I think you’re such a humble person
that when I was describing your works, I gave it to Morgan, all the kids are like,
“Morgan, it’s Morgan,” and she was like, “No.” When she got the award, she was like, “Really? You think all those amazing things about me?” And of course we do, but I think I’ve
seen a really big shift in you since then in ways that I can’t describe but I think that
you’re starting to really believe that message, and I think that’s really improved your
self-confidence and therefore I think you’re like, “Oh yeah, I am awesome. I am worth that teacher’s time. “I do have something valuable to add to the conversation.” I’m really excited, I’m really proud and
really happy that was so impactful for you because I think that since I’ve gotten to know you this year, you really continued to grow your self confidence quite a bit, and that looks like you self-advocating and that
looks all these things that you’ve written about. But I wanted to go back to, I wanted to
talk about that piece in your resume and tie it back to your goal because
I see a huge connection there.>>Thank you.
>>You’re welcome.>>My grades this year, I think I’ve overall just shown my growth in not only just learning but doing the homework,
doing everything, being ready for class. I explained this yesterday as well but— I’ll tell you what my grades are, but overall, I just think that your grades don’t really show while you’re an A student or while you’re really failing, your grades should show how you’re doing. If you’re trying your best and you’re doing your best and you’re turning in all your assignments
and that turns out to be a B-, then a B-is basically an A+ because you’re doing your best and you’re just doing what you’re doing. I think that even though my grades have been
pretty good, like really good, in trimester three, I think that overall, from beginning to maybe Bs, I think that those are A+ for me because I just tried my best and if that’s a B, then that’s okay with me. I know that that’s okay with you, too. I know that’s okay with teachers, too.>>Can I ask a question because I
remember something you talked about at the very beginning of your work completion and being really consistent was a little bit of an issue, and we talked about that tying it up,
if I remember right, to self-advocacy. How is that going? Do you feel like you’re improving? Are you more consistent in handing
in your work and asking questions if you’re not or if you need clarification? I think that overall, for just everything
that has to do with self-advocacy from beginning to the end of the year
is just getting better and better. By the way, the teachers are a big part of it because they help us along the way just
like, “You can do it. You can do this.” It’s really empowering and I know that not only me but every single student is really
glad that you guys are doing that. Thanks a bunch for you guys.>>Thank you.>>I think that I’ve gotten really good at handing in my work because I want to show what I can do and I want to show that I understand what’s going on in class and I pay attention and I listen to the
speaker, and that’s just shown through. I’m just so proud. I’m not trying to be like that, but
I’m just really proud of myself.>>We’re thinking that you should be proud. I think the other thing that I’ve seen is project work and you being really excited and really immersed in project work. When I think about things, the three things that come to my mind for
this year are the scale model, right?>>Yeah, that was really fun.>>Yeah, and the science project and then the 30-year old me. So it kind of tracked those three big projects. You really seem to gravitate and grab on to those. I think the reason for that is because
they’re really meaningful for you. I think the more you’re connecting, “Well, I’m learning this and this is how
I’m going to apply it,” is important. I think that that’s the buy-in to, “Oh, I’m willing to not watch this baking show right
now because I’m really excited about my project.” And so I’m seeing more of that. As a mom, it’s amazing that I don’t have a say to 13-year olds, “Time to do your homework.” That’s really great. I think the more you’re excited and engaged
with your education, the more it is, It’s like, “Wow, learning is fun.” And trust me when I tell you as a 44-year old person, if I could go back and be a student every
day of my life, it would be a dream. If somebody would pay me to be a student, that’d be amazing. I see a lot of those things in you, too, just like, “I love learning, I love making these connections.” And so the fact that you’re in an environment that promotes that and that that’s how you’re thinking of things at a higher level and not just, “I’m dotting every I so
I’d get an A,” that’s not who you are. You’re more like, “I’m really focused on
this because it’s exciting and it’s fun.” I think the more you’re excited about education, the more you’ll continue to be invested in that way.>>I agree with that.
>>Great.>>Kind of like a really brief synopsis
of what eighth grade decision is. We came up with a bunch of decisions that we’re gonna make towards getting our life to 30. And it started with an eighth grade decision. Even though it’s not really like getting
a job or doing something with that, I chose to join a new activity. I think that’s important because you
just need to get to know new people, you need to try new things, and just put yourself in a new environment that you’re not really used to. Overall, I think that’s just getting
yourself used to being with new people and meeting new friends, and overall
just making new relationships.>>And taking on new risks, trying something, and seeing if it works or if it doesn’t
work, and being okay with that. That’s great.>>Okay, so ending this here. Overall, I think I can just look back. What I really want at the end of this year— Sorry, I get kind of emotional out of this. I just really want to feel proud of
myself and how much progress I’ve made. I can definitely do that right now because like I said at the beginning of
sixth grade, I was kind of the shy student. I was like, “Oh, everybody is so much older than me.” Then at the end, I ended up almost in the same way. Then seventh grade, I was so nervous, I was like, “New people, new teachers,
what’s it going to be like? “I’m not the youngest anymore but I’m not the oldest.” I think I’ve just grown a lot as a
learner and as a person in this process. It’s just really great to see how much I have grown. It’s almost like I’m a different person, but I love that because I just love who I’ve become. Overall, I just love everybody. Sorry, it’s just… That’s what I want at the end of this year. I feel like I’ve really done that.>>You’re spot on. There’s so many people that are so proud of you. You continue to unfold parts of me
that I wish I had it all together like Morgan has still in my age. I am extremely proud of you. If there’s any opportunity that I can to celebrate you, I try to do that, but there’s just
not going to be enough celebration. I think every day should be celebrate Morgan day because I think that you’re magical and fantastic. That will continue to unfold and
you’ll continue to gain confidence. Let me just tell you, I have literally
been in this school when I was your age and I did not have the confidence that you have. As a 13-year old girl with just by the nature
of hormones and development and social norming, it’s not easy to get through seventh grade and at the end of seventh grade be able to be like, “I’m proud of who I am and the decisions I make.” And so that’s huge. I’m really proud of you.>>Thanks mom.
>>And I love you.>>It’d be just great to see two really big pieces of my life, school and home, just come together. It felt really great that both sides were celebrating me and I felt humbled and just really special for that half an hour, even though it’s like a conference,
it just made me feel really great and it made me reflect on how I’ve been doing. I’m really proud of the work that I’ve been doing.

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