Current best practices in education include the execution of student-led conferences in the elementary grades and beyond. During the spring of 2022, our fifth grade students, as part of their Learning Applications class, were the first to be part of this experience.
Reactions to these conferences by parents, students, and teachers have been overwhelmingly positive. During the conferences, students shared various, self-selected, graded items to review with their parents. These choices followed parameters to ensure that various content areas, time frames, and continuums of learning were adequately represented. Some students even chose to share pieces of art, digital projects, and/or played a piece of music for their parents. Focus was put on effort and progress, rather than grades. The end of the conference included goal-setting for the coming year. Parents and students worked together to create goals that were measurable and realistic. All of this was monitored by the student’s CDP Advisor.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case, the words of our students paint a vivid picture of what it feels like to be part of a student-led conference.
“I didn’t think (this conference) would be helpful, but it turned out that I think it was.”
“At first I was nervous, but then it felt comfortable just to have a conversation about school with my (parent)”
“I like (these conferences). You get to open your mind up.”
“ Oh! It’s amazing! You get to know what to say (about yourself) and you get to pick what you show! It’s cool!”
“I liked being able to tell things from my perspective.”
Listen to the ownership in these quotes! Students took responsibility for their learning by explaining each selection. Compare that to the feelings they might have during a traditional conference that takes place about them behind closed doors. The outcome of a student-led conference is overwhelmingly more constructive for the student than a parent-teacher conference. We are hopeful that this initiative with student-led conferences, along with the option for traditional conferences, will continue throughout middle school.