What to expect from student-led conferences

Education is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of students and teachers. Many educators are finding ways to better incorporate self-assessment in their classrooms to help kids work toward their academic goals. Some teachers are turning to student-led conferences as a means of furthering collaboration between educator and student. Read on to learn what you can expect when your kids are asked to lead their conferences:

What is a student-led conference?
The point of these flip-flopped conferences is to provide students with a sense of ownership over their education. In a typical parent-teacher conference, the student isn't present. Instead, parents go to the school and meet with their kids' teachers for half an hour to discuss any positive or negative aspects of their children's class time. Teachers exhibit great work or tests the students earned high grades on, as well as make remarks on any improvements the kids can work toward in the future. In a student-led conference, the idea is the same. However, instead of the teacher leading, the student runs the show.

How do students prepare?
Before a student-led conference, kids must gather their homework, Common Core test scores and any projects they've worked on over the last quarter or semester. They may make a portfolio to flip through during their conference. This aims to show parents what the students are proud of and where they could use a little work and encouragement. Students will also likely spend time in class role-playing to prepare for their conferences. This is akin to public speaking for many kids as it has a formality they may have zero experience with, so practice can be great for calming their nerves. Educators may also work with the kids to discuss goals for the next semester to bring up during the conference, as well as reflect on their in-class behavior. 

What is the parents role?
Many people come to parent-teacher conferences with questions.  They commonly express thoughts like, "Why is my child not doing well in certain subjects?" or, "Is my child getting along with his/her classmates?" during this event. You should still come to student-led conferences with these questions, but frame them differently as you'll be asking your child instead of the teacher. You may ask your son to show you some work from math class if you think he's underperforming. He can then show you homework, tests and quizzes from his portfolio.

His teacher will not stay silent – educators are a crucial part of this meeting. They let the student lead but add in their thoughts and advice. In this case, the educator may note that your son isn't quite understanding a certain concept in algebra and then recommend working on specific chapters at home or using the help of a tutor. Student-led conferences should be just as informative and helpful as parent-teacher conferences, but the student is present and involved.

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