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Student Led Conferences

January 20, 2012

Planning and organization are critical for successful teachers and classrooms. If you haven’t already, it is time to start planning for your spring conferences. Many schools have found student led conferences a very effective tool. Especially in the 2nd semester, students can share writing and project samples, reading skills, goals and progress towards those goals. The conference provides an excellent opportunity for students to practice oral communication and speaking skills.

In a recent class, some of my preservice teachers struggled with the idea of giving control of conferences to their students. (Thank you for providing the inspiration for this blog post.) They wondered how you would be able to discuss problems or issues with students present. I appreciated their concern, it can be difficult for even experienced teachers to give this control to their students. If you have students who are struggling with learning or behavior issues you should have contacted them early in the year to create a plan for parent/school collaboration. This should have been an ongoing conversation throughout the year. Remember, the purpose of conferences is to communicate student learning progress to parents.

In one of my schools the fourth graders prepared PowerPoint presentations to use as guides for their conferences. Teachers used computer labs and several students conferenced at the same time. The teacher was overseer, moving around the room. Students first introduced themselves and then shared writing samples, assessments, rubrics, progress towards goals, and goals for the next grading period. They dressed professionally and made “briefcases” from file folders to carry their work samples. Some even made business cards. Parents were informed well ahead of time about the conference format. Those who wanted more time to talk privately with teachers were able to schedule those appointments.

Consider giving your students a voice in their own learning. Let spring conferences be a time to celebrate the learning and growth of your students. Plan carefully. Set aside ample classroom time for students to prepare and practice for their conferences.

Below are articles and resources to help you plan successfully for your student led conferences.




Resources updated March 7, 2013.

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