As conference time begins to approach for many of us, I would hope that you will consider hosting a student-led conference. After planning, conducting and evaluating the conference with both students and parents, the positives are quite numerous. Somehow, I've boiled them down to three great reasons, in an attempt to persuade you!
First, accountability. By participating in a student-led conference, students gain a whole new perspective into their responsibility as a learner. Through an evaluation process similar to one that we as teachers use to relate performance in class to parents, students share their success and areas for improvement both academically and socially. Through ownership, students gain a tremendous amount of insight as to who they are as a learner and what role they play in the classroom.
Next, using those areas of success and an awareness of what areas may need some help, students are then able to set specific goals for themselves. With parents in attendance, the child can discuss those areas that need improvement with specific timelines, methods, and those that can assist with reaching each goal. By having all parties in attendance, all stakeholders are on the same page.
Finally, attendance. Over the past 12 years, parent participation by in student-led conferences has to be in the high 80 to low 90%. range. Many years, I know that our team has achieved 100%! When a child prepares their script, organizes their portfolio, and practices the conference in class, it must be hard for a parent to say no to their child's request to come to school and be a part of the program. Granted, previous communication and precedent of expectations in the school climate over the years helps, but the numbers speak volumes as to how effective they can be.
Formats, expectations, scripts, and types of portfolios may vary, but the common message of giving students an opportunity to gain ownership for their learning, and having the chance to demonstrate that ability is a powerful experience that all students should experience.
Please feel free to contact me @coachyetter if you would like to discuss how you can get things started.