The Benefits of Student Led Conferences

Student led conferences are a great way for students to show off their work to parents. They also get the chance to talk about their progress and future goals in a more natural way.

Teachers help students plan for their conferences, guide portfolio selection and support with self-evaluation checklists. These conference practices build motivation, clarity and critical thinking while connecting families deeply to their child’s learning and growth.

1. Self-advocacy

For many students, it’s not easy to advocate for themselves in a school setting. They may not have a strong understanding of their rights or how to get accommodations.

Students who are self-advocates know how to communicate their needs in a way that will create change. They take ownership of their challenges and use their strengths to create solutions.

Student led conferences are a great opportunity to teach and practice these skills. Students can work with their teachers to prepare for the conference, review their learning goals, and collect work samples. This preparation gives them a chance to build these skills while also giving families deep insight into their child’s progress and achievements. These sessions also help to create a psychologically safe environment where everyone can participate.

2. Reflection

Reflecting on the process of learning is an essential part of student-led conferences. Whether students have a specific set of prompts or a more open-ended reflection sheet, the process helps them take ownership of their learning and think critically about the things they need to improve on.

In addition, reflecting on their conference work helps them prepare to present to parents and gives students a chance to practice their public speaking skills. This can be a challenge for primary-aged students and will require a lot of teacher modeling to help them find their authentic voices.

One of the most powerful components of student led conferences is allowing students to set academic and character goals with their teachers and families. This process can be a great way to build reflection and metacognition while connecting families deeply to their child’s growth at school.

3. Communication

Student led conferences create a safe environment for students to talk openly about learning. They also allow parents to ask questions and listen to their child’s point of view.

To make conferences meaningful, it’s important that students learn how to prepare for them. Teachers can help them do this by guiding students in collecting work to include in their portfolios and preparing their explanation of how these pieces connect to long-term goals.

In addition, students need to be able to discuss their progress and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. This can be done by providing them with sentence starters that help them highlight mastered learning targets as well as identify areas for improvement. These are the skills that students will need to develop for real world success.

4. Responsibility

Providing students an opportunity to share their learning with parents is a huge responsibility. Students need to take time throughout the year to select pieces of work they are proud of and explain how they show growth.

Students who regularly reflect on their progress through a portfolio process deepen ownership of their learning and are more prepared for student led conferences. Ideally, the student portfolio should serve as a historical record of the learning process through standards-based rubrics, self-reflections, and teacher feedback.

Educators know that metacognition is important for academic success and student-led conferences are a great way to promote this skill by teaching students how to evaluate their own progress. However, many educators struggle to understand the benefits and strategies for running these powerful sessions.

5. Goal-setting

Student led conferences provide a powerful platform for students to develop valuable life skills such as public speaking, organization and long-term goal-setting. However, these benefits are only realized if the conference sessions are conducted effectively.

Student-led conferences involve students of all grades conducting a meeting with their families where they present portfolios of their work and share reflections upon learning. It is important that students prepare in advance by collecting their work samples on an ongoing basis, reflecting upon them and connecting them to long term academic and character goals.

Teachers support this process by scheduling student led conferences and guiding them as they collect work samples and reflect on their progress. They also help them to identify what to include in their conference presentation and hone their communication and presentation skills.

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