being a teacher, conferences, Student-centered

A Student-Led Conference

There they sit, hands clutching the paper, eyes shifting a little back and forth; the responsibility clearly weighing on them and yet…If you look a little closer, you will also notice poise, presence, and a sneaking calm.  The students are ready to state their goals, to own their learning; welcome to student-led conferences.

Most of these students have never been given the control of their conference so they are more nervous than they need to be, in fact, I think they get a little glimpse of how many teachers feel.  They want to do well, they want to be able to answer the questions, they want to offer their parents hope and positivity.  Yet they are not afraid to bare their shortcomings, they are not afraid to discuss what the path ahead looks like.  They own their education.

I leave the meetings exhilarated and proud, we shared our journey and we previewed our path.  Parents had tough questions but the students were honest in their answers.  Parents leave feeling satisfied, proud of their children, and part of the process.

As educators, we wonder how we lose the engagement of our students and then do conferences to them.  We do education to our students acting as if they have nothing at stake, pretending to be the one true expert that will fill the empty vessels.  Even if we do student-centered learning, we then forget to shape our conferences on the same model; less me, more them.  I could never go back to the old conferences.

4 thoughts on “A Student-Led Conference”

  1. My daughter led our conference this year and it was not nearly as successful as you describe. She's also in 5th grade -how did you help your students prepare to lead the conference?

  2. Hi Julie, I am sorry to hear that! We prepare and meet before the conferences and the students also have a packet they fill out with goals and strength questions etc. I have to upload it into Google docs and then I can link it.

  3. I agree with you about Student Led Conferences. I did them for the first time last year, and with fantastic results! Students really took ownership over their learning and goal-setting, and parents loved seeing the students leading the conference. We spent some time preparing (as I have this year too), but having students "lead" in the classroom throughout the year, really helped. They're used to discussing their learning and what they do, and from what you share Pernille, I'm sure that the same is true in your classroom as well. I look forward to our Student Led Conferences this week!Aviva

  4. That is great it went well! I"ve wanted to take that step w/ 4th graders. I'll check out your Google doc info you post. Thanks for always leading and sharing!

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