Student Led Conferences?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by otterpop, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Nov 5, 2017

    My school is really pushing / requiring teachers to do student led conferences this year, which I think is a fine idea. I'm wondering if anyone has experience with this and what their format generally looks like? Conferences are coming up soon!
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Nov 5, 2017

    The first school I worked in did these. I really liked them on conference night, but did have a problem with the amount of instructional time that was used to prepare the students for leading the conference.

    I can't recall what grade you teach, so I'll just give a "middle" example of what 2nd/ 3rd graders would generally do. They would save their tests/work throughout the semester and then the week before conferences, they would choose some pieces to show to parents. They would have a "cover page" for each subject that they would talk about.

    For example, for reading, it would say:

    In reading, my strengths are:

    I need to work on improving:

    Right now I am reading a level _________. I have chosen a portion of __________ (book) to read to you today. To be on grade level, I need to read ___________________.

    So far this year, we've worked on __________________ (making inferences, main idea, whatever). Here are some work samples I have chosen to show you.

    The older students would talk more specifically about the work samples they were showing, and give strengths and weaknesses for each work sample.
     
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  4. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Nov 5, 2017

    Thank you! That's very helpful. I like the idea of having them read to their parent, and also stating plainly where they need to be.
     
  5. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Nov 5, 2017

    My students kept a portfolio, which they shared with their parents. The portfolios are organized by month, to show progress. We updated our portfolios every month to keep up and avoid the mad dash right before conferences. After showing the portfolio, they either read a book aloud or taught their family a math game. I made sure there were enough copies of the game so every student could take it home. I always had the students end with goal setting. Together, the student, parents & I would come up with a goal for the next semester and also set a plan for meeting the goal.

    To be honest, I did very little prep with my grade 1s ahead of time. It really didn’t seem to make a difference. I posted an agenda on the board so the parents could help keep their child on track and I circulated to help as well. We typically had 3 conferences happening at the same time and each conference ran for 30 minutes.

    The downside to student led conferences is the follow up parent teacher conferences that need to happen to discuss more sensitive topics. I wish in the fall we could have done more traditional conferences so that we could have had more candid conversations with parents up front.
     
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  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 6, 2017

    I do student-led conferences with my grade 7 students. In my building about half of the teachers do student-led conferences and half do traditional conferences. My students don't do a lot of prep before the conferences. We do put together a folder of assessments and the students choose a couple of entries in their reading and writing notebooks, or from assignments on Google Classroom, to share with their parents. My goal is that the conferences are more a conversation than a scripted "performance". I usually have 2-3 families in the room at a time and I circulate and sit with each student and their parents for at least 5 minutes during the conference.

    I prefer student-led conferences for a few reasons. My school community is very diverse and many of our parents have limited English; the students are able to talk to their parents about their work in their own language. When sharing their work and talking about strengths and areas for improvement, the students must be accountable for their results.

    If I feel that any conferences will be challenging or that a more private meeting is needed, I'll only schedule the one family during a time slot, or I'll book another time.
     
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  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    Nov 6, 2017

    I received permission to try this one year in 3rd grade (at my private Christian school). I agree with the above observations, I found it both a positive and negative experience. On the negative side, this was my first attempt and I was starting from scratch. I found myself doing most of the talking, but in re-evaluating, some preparation prior to the conference could have invoked a more rounded discussion. Our school only scheduled 1 conference day (ugh)! after the first quarter; future conference days might have made this venture more profitable. During one particular meeting, I was flabbergasted by one student's behavior! Yeah, he'd be a bit antsy in the classroom, but he was totally out of control during the conference! And as mentioned above, sometimes parents or myself wished to conference without the student present, not to withhold information from the student, but some topics are difficult for a child to understand and best talked between just a parent and the teacher. On the positive side, many parents expressed appreciation for including their child in the conference; after all, it's the child's education and s/he should be a part of the process. The conference gave the student a different perspective on the classroom experience; s/he was there, in the classroom, with both the teacher and the parent present. It also allowed the student to see how all of us were working together in the child's education. I didn't use this procedure again the next year, but overall, I agree with the above that it is mostly a positive experience for the students and parents and with better preparation and planning than I had, and working out the bugs, I find it a very workable method of conferencing. What I did instead, I opted for daily teacher-parent-student interaction through the use of a folder sent home that parents would daily sign. That way, students were responsible for discussing classwork with their parents. I also designed my homework to allow for optional parental participation. I kept an open door policy with my parents. Phone calls during school hours were always welcomed and returned when I became available. In my local area, because parents had odd job hours, in my later years of teaching I found it helpful to make myself available in the classroom early in the morning or 30-45 minutes after school. Parents would drive by, see my light on, and stop in for a chat. I found these informal meetings to be much more profitable than formal conferences. Overall, I stressed a togetherness philosophy among parent, child, and teacher--we were in this together.
     
  8. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    Nov 6, 2017

    We do student-led goal setting conferences. In the end, I don't do a ton in the classroom in terms of prep -- we talk about how to write SMART goals, and we've been talking about growth mindset and goal setting all throughout the year as part of the core to our classroom. In the conference, I help organize the process, and the kids share their goals, with the parents and I asking questions along the way for specificity, questions we have about their goals, etc... I also have the students share something positive about themselves so far this year, and at the end, give parents a chance to share about other goals they have for their child, outside of what was mentioned.
     
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  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    Nov 6, 2017

    Awesome!
     
  10. WarriorPrncss

    WarriorPrncss Companion

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    Nov 12, 2017

    The first school I worked at did student led conferences and I LOVED it. It puts the focus on the student and allows them to take ownership of their work.

    My students all had a binder aka their Leadership Notebook. This binder had dividers and housed tests, work, any projects, etc, from each subject. We also kept our data tracking papers and reading logs here. Students also completed weekly goals sheets. I required my students to take their notebook home each weekend and have their parents sign a log to indicate they had the opportunity to look at their child's work.

    This is a great tool for students to track their progress, for parent communication, and for conferences. My school did these notebooks from Kinder and up-- we trained them to be Leaders and self sufficient.

    At the conferences student would walk their parents through their notebooks and at the end I'd give out their report card.
     
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2017 at 8:09 PM

    I love the idea of these notebooks. I think it would work much better on a school level, but it may be something I implement next year. :)
     

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