It’s Take Your Students To Conferences Month!

OK, not really. I just made that up.

But this is the time of year that many educational conferences ask for educators to submit ideas and proposals for sessions at state and regional conferences to be held next spring.

Going to conferences is a great professional development experience for educators. But why bring students?

Reason #1 – It’s good for the students. Students presenting and sharing their work is a great learning experience. Expanding the audience beyond their own teacher or parents can spur students to reflect on the needs of their audience, be a little more serious about their role, and put more energy into practicing and performing.

Reason #2 – It’s about walking the talk. If you are considering presenting a session where you talk about what your students do, how empowering that is, and the benefits of this, wouldn’t it be that much better if actual students were there to drive that message home?

Reason #3 – It’s about building your classroom learning community. Working with students on something that’s a stretch for you creates mutual respect, shared commitment, and purpose — all hallmarks of a vibrant learning community. You should see these attributes seep back into the classroom in unexpected ways.

If any of this sounds enticing to you, I hope you will download this PDF called, Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences. It includes:

  • Top Ten Tips for Student Presenters
  • Balancing the needs of the audience with the needs of students
  • Research on student voice, 21st Century skills and student empowerment
  • How to plan and submit sessions with student presenters
  • Maintaining student ownership and authentic student voice
  • Logistics tips for bigger conferences and exhibit halls
  • The crucial role of the teacher as part of the presentation

You’ll notice that this is not all happy talk about how precious the little darlings are and every word out of their mouths is a pearl of wisdom. It’s never fair to inflict amateurish, unfocused presentations on an audience not composed of adoring parents. Honoring student voice is a two-way commitment, and both sides have to contribute their best.

I hope you get something out of the article, Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences. And if you have some great student presentation advice, add comments below!


3 Replies to “It’s Take Your Students To Conferences Month!”

  1. Thanks for this fantastic resource, Sylvia. I’ve shared it in the Working Together 2 Make a Difference Ning . We’re just getting started there, but I’m hoping that eventually, we’ll be able to inspire meaningful student participation there. My daughter is often asked to present at conferences and for different groups of school leaders and students. It’s been interesting watching her become more experienced with this….over time, she’s grown less interested in receiving pats-on-the-back and kudos for her efforts. That sort of thing grows old pretty quickly, and it also tends to inspire a bit of resentment. Pouring on praise can do that within classroom communities too, I find. Sharing our thoughts and our ideas in order to make a contribution, receive feedback, and serve others authentically is the greater mission, I couldn’t agree more. This requires a different skill-set as a teacher or a leader though–your article provides great direction there. Thanks!

  2. My 12 year old daughter and I frequently present to various groups of teachers both locally here in PA and in other states. Yesterday she presented her Civil War Sallie ( project at the Classroom 2.0 conference here in Pennsylvania and next week she’ll present to another large group of teachers.

    This is a great way for me to spend time with her and also for her to gain valuable experience with public speaking and actually teaching teachers about technology.

    Jim Beeghley

  3. Angela – it’s a crucial point you are making. Empowering students means actually letting them participate in meaningful ways, which is much more difficult. As I’ve said before, I believe that student voice is about action, not talking.

    Jim – that’s a great story, and really illustrates some of the points I make in the article. Students need to be sharing what they are doing, what they are proudest of, and how they are making their mark on the world. That’s real student voice.

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