Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Three Favorite Things about Student Led Conferences

Student Led Conferences is one of my favorite times of the school year. My school holds student-led conferences in the Spring after traditional Parent/Teacher Conferences in the fall. By March, we have done so much learning and growing; my students are always so ready to share it all with parents.

We use a self-selected work display all year. Students accumulate a portfolio of work to share at conferences. You can read about it here. In addition to our portfolio work, we use a combination of digital and printed forms. I previous years, I have only used printed resources. You can check out the links below if you are a "no need to recreate the wheel" type.

Preparing for the conferences is fun and informative, but nothing compares to the night of the actual conferences. Here are my three favorite things about student led conferences.

Maybe a shy kid needs a little encouragement to start. Another one of my friends was absent due to illness leading up to conferences and scrambled to complete the pieces she needed to facilitate the conversation. Whatever the situation, it is amazing to look across the room and be able to give a nonverbal boost to that student you have worked so hard with all year.

When students arrive at student led conferences, they always have mixed emotions. I know this, because it always comes up in our share the next school day. Excitement, worry, pride, and silliness abound. When we have our debrief at morning meeting (yes, I love morning meeting. Even for big kids.) the students are always eager to share their experience with our community. Each student is different and will internalize the events of the conference differently. It is neat to hear each kid's take on the process. This year was kind of a bummer because our first meeting after Student Led was following Spring Break. Not having school the very next day, or even following a weekend makes it harder to get good feedback.

Listening to students earnestly share their learning with parents is rewarding. It never ceases to amaze me when some of my quietest kids shine at conferences. Things that they would never dare to say in a whole group setting or with peers come up with their family sitting beside them.

"We do take-a-break to help us learn to self-regulate and own our behavior." DIRECT QUOTE, Y'ALL! Talk about tearing up and needing to excuse myself for a tissue.

You can see some of my feedback from this year below. Most of the feedback is all sunshine and flowers. I feel AMAZING after reading it. Parents love the atmosphere, the room tour, digital components, the sit down with their kids, and the work portfolios.

But, the warm fuzzies aren't what keeps me asking for parent feedback. The less common comments are the ones that get me thinking. "Include more of the daily work" has inspired me to push harder to integrate daily communication of our authentic and real-time learning. This parent saw plenty of papers that show a product. She got newsletters all school year. I talked with her and what she really wanted to see was more process. I won't be adding that component to ONLY conferences though. I will be moving toward more daily updates. #winning

I hope that reading this has inspired you to start Student Led Conferences in your classroom.

Ready to get started? Digital Student Led Conferences , Rockin' Student Led Conferences, Super Student Led Conferences