I am embarking on a new experience next week. Please provide me your input on Student Led conferences. Can you please give me some advice as how to prepare and what is the values and purpose SLC. My partners are there for me to walk me through, but I still seek additional feedback on potential pitfalls and such. Thanks.
The best experience I have ever had with conferences was when I tried student led conferences last fall. I'm sure there are a million ways to approach this task, but I'll tell you how I set it up with my sixth grade students.
Preparation was the key. We had been saving important parts of classwork in folders for quite sometime. Students examined that work and compared it to the information found in their progress reports.
I prepared a very basic script for students to follow and they filled in their thoughts. As I remember, it was something like...
My grade in reading was "blank". The reason I earned this grade was because... (then they wrote in their own ideas based on the progress report).
Students were told to highlight all the positives they could find in their progress reports and we kept the conferences very upbeat. We also talked about goals and specific areas for improvement.
We reviewed the scripts a few times with trusted friends and I reviewed what they wrote and listened in to their practice conferences.
At conference time students did a fabulous job. It was so great to see them take ownership for their grades. They really did know what skills they had mastered and what they needed to work on. Some were very nervous, but some were very proud of their accomplishments.
I have done student led conferences for 2 years now in the fall and spring.
I agree with everything that imalith said above. Preparation is definitely key. My kids are always putting their work in their student portfolios. Then, the week before conferences they fill out a student evaluation sheet that includes grades they think they deserve in each subject, how they are behaving in class, what they think their strengths and weaknesses are, etc.
They choose several assignments and then decide which show perseverance, motivation, hard work etc.
I give each student a simple checklist/script to follow when they come for their conference. They are to invite their family in, having them sign in, lead them to their seat, seat them, and then begin. At the end, they ask, "Do you havev any questions for the teacher?" Most families do not have questions for me b/c their child did such a good job explaining everything to them.
Even my underperforming students have several pieces of work in their portfolios that they are proud of, whether it is something they got a C on or not. If they feel they tried their hardest on it, they will put it in. Since they are proud of it, they do a good job of bringing that across to their family.
I find that I have almost 100% attendance as well b/c the parents feel less intimidated and the students know it won't be a time when they get yelled at for bad behavior.
Most people who do SLCs do not discuss behavior at the conference, they discuss it at different times. The conference needs to be a time when the students can discuss their work and evaluate themselves.
Teacher Carrie and I sound like we had similar experiences. I also had almost 100 percent attendance to the conferences.
The underperformers were amazing. They focused on the positive and looked towards working harder to improve. The cool part was that they could no longer blame someone else (my teacher gave me an F). They understood that they worked and earned their grades. The parents also had a good experience. They were much more comfortable talking with their children. Overall, everyone benefited from the experience, even me!