Back to school: Student-led conferences

OK, fall is officially here so I suppose it’s time to wrap up the “Back the School” set of blog posts I’ve been doing.

Last but not least, Student-led Conferences. This is something that most schools do NOT do, but some do very successfully. So why is this practice not more well-known? Perhaps it takes a matching philosophy of student empowerment in all areas, including assessment and planning.

Traditional parent-teacher conferences are places where a teacher shares information with parents about their child, parents can ask questions, and together, they can steer the course of a successful educational experience for that child. That’s the ideal, of course, but even that leaves out the most important stakeholder, the student. How can this succeed if the student themself only gets third party reports about what happened?

Proponents of student-led conferences say that the practice put students in charge of their own learning, gives students a better handle on their own progress, and shows parents that student achievement is in the student’s hands, not theirs (or the teacher’s). The hallmark of an effective student conference is preparation, not just for the student to create an authentic report of their own progress, but also for the parents since this is not what most parents are used to.

Resources:

Student-led Conferences – Very recent and up-to-date information, examples, and resources. Multiple videos for a range of grade levels modeling best practices, viewer guides, handouts, and planning guides from Curriculum Services Canada. These videos show that student-led conferences aren’t just a stunt, but a serious reflection exercise for students, parents and teachers.

Student-led Conferences (Education World) – A good overview article of student-led conferences. Some of the  links have gotten old, but enough are still working to make this a recommend resource.

How to Run Successful Parent-Team Conferences: Tips by the Dozen for Middle-Level Educators (PDF) – An article from Middle Matters magazine in 1998. These tips are timeless!

Student-Led Conferences Hold Kids Accountable (Education World) – quotes research about the benefits of student-led conferences, including higher rates of parent participation.

Successful Student-Led School Conferences – A number of resources and articles from MiddleWeb – Exploring Middle School Reform.

Sylvia

More back to school posts!

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