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My students are currently in the process of preparing for student-led conferences. We have had students lead their conferences at our school for the past five or six years.
Our school is affiliated with EL Education. It’s our connection with the EL network that brought student-led conferences to our school. Here is a description of student-led conferences from their website. It also comes from a great book I picked up at the EL National Conference called “Leaders of Their Own Learning*”.
“A student-led conference is a meeting with a student and his or her family and teachers during which the student shares his or her portfolio of work and discusses progress with family members. The student facilitates the meeting from start to finish. Student-led conferences can be implemented at all grade levels, K–12.”
I’ve grown to truly appreciate these conferences even though they were a little awkward at first. They really do put students “front and center”.
Our 8th graders are preparing to discuss the following at their conferences:
- There is a reading and greeting.
- A Core Value Reflection - they explain how well they think they are doing and set a character goal for the future. Our core values are integrity, compassion, and courage.
- Habits of Scholarship Reflection and S.M.A.R.T. goal - Our Habits of Scholarship are Grit, Courage, and Curiosity.
- They select a few pieces of their work and reflect on their successes and areas for growth.
- They end their conference by asking their parents if they have any questions.
- Although I highly recommend student-led conferences they do come with challenges like anything else.
- First, you need time to prepare. Luckily we have time set aside in our day where we can work with our homeroom (Crew).
- There are also some students who aren’t completely prepared for their conference. It’s tough to watch that happen, but it can be a learning moment and lead to a thoughtful discussion with the students and parents.
Here are some student-led conference resources:
- Leaders of Their Own Learning: Chapter 5: Student-Led Conferences
- Edutopia: Having Students Lead Parent Conferences
- Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend
- Student-Led Conferences: Involving the Most Important Player
- Here is a resource that outlines how a school made changes to their student-led conferences to make them better.
- This page outlines the benefits of student-led conferences.
I've listened to my own children lead their conferences for years. Each conference leaves me impressed and grateful that they are developing communication skills and that they have the time to be reflective about their academics, character, and habits of scholarship.
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