The past 2 weeks, I have been preparing my students for Student-Led Conferences, since the Progress Reports were sent home, and conferences were set for this past Friday.
I have never done or seen Student-Led Conferences before, and what an amazing experience it was. Yes, it does take a lot of prepareation for the students, but after a lot of feedback, the parents really enjoyed it.
What Are Student-Led Conferences?
Instead of the formal Parent-Teacher Interviews, my school board has taken the approach to doing Student-Led Conferences, which enables the student to take full responsibility for their learning, and they choose things to share with their parents that they are most proud of and some things they feel they need to work on. They also choose a Learning Skill that they think is the best, as well as a Learning Skill that they need to improve upon.
Preparing My Students for the Conferences:
Two weeks prior to the Student-Led Conferences, we began preparing ourselves for these conferences. It does take a lot of time and preparation, but the outcome is wonderful! First, I laid out all the work my students have done so far. I explained to students that they would look through their work and choose 2 things they were most proud of (could include anything but most were Social Studies Tests, Math Tests, Journal Entries, and Daily 5 Work), and 1 thing they felt they needed to improve upon. Once they chose their 3 items, they were given 2 “star” papers where they wrote why they were most proud of this pieve of work and why (they had to be specific-because they looked at the Word Wall to help them spell, they studied really hard for a test, or they used the Success Criteria to help them in their writing…). Then, students were given one “Next Steps” paper where they wrote about why they feel they needed to improve upon that piece of work, and what they can do next time (use the Editing Checklist, use the Work Wall, etc.).
As a class, we then reviewed the Learning Skills and what each skill means. We brainstormed (and reviewed) some examples about what each Learning Skill looks like here at school. Then students chose which Learning Skill they felt was their best, and explained why using examples, as well as choosing a Learning Skill that they needed to work on, and explained what they can do to improve upon this Learning Skill.
Once all the writing was complete, I created a script that students practiced so they knew exactly what to say, and when to show/explain their work. For many days, students would practice reading this script and showing their work independently, to a partner, in a group, and even their Reading Buddies. We encouraged students to take on different roles as well, to prepare them (i.e. one student would be a mom, one would be a dad, and the other would present to them).
When it came time for the Student-Led Conferences, the students ran the show. They took full responsibility, and THEY were the ones explaining to parents why they need to improve upon the work they chose, and even asked how their parents could support them at home. I feel that the student saying this to their parents is much more powerful than if I were the one saying it. Parents really enjoyed seeing their child’s work, and were excited to come up with ways that they could support their child at home. Overall, the Student-Led Conferences were a huge success at my school, and it was really great for the students to be so enthusiastic about the work and learning they have done thus far!
Student-Led Conference Script:
Introductions: “Hello, Ms. Pryde. This is my _______ and my _________.”
Explanation about the Conference: “I am taking responsibility for my learning. Today, I will be showing you the accomplishments I have done so far at school. I will also be showing some work that I feel I need to improve upon, and will be asking for your input about how you can help me in reaching my goals at home.”
Showing of the Work: “This is one of my best pieces of work because __________________.
I also chose this piece of work as something that I am most proud of because __________________.
I feel that I could improve upon this piece of work because _____________. I think I can improve on it by __________________________________.
I think my best Learning Skill is ________________________ because _______________________________________________.
The Learning Skill that I think I can improve on is _______________ because _______________________________________________.”
Conclusion: “Thank you for coming to my conference. Is there any questions or comments for myself or Ms. Pryde?”