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  • Student-Led Conferences - Cross posted from the VPLD community.

Student-Led Conferences - Cross posted from the VPLD community.

This week I had my first taste of hosting student-led conferences in place of the traditional parent-teacher interviews. IT WAS FANTASTIC - HERE’S WHY …...

1. It’s all about the process:

I spent the past 6 weeks supporting 14 students in the planning of their conferences. We moved through a process of collecting data on and evidence of learning, analyzing it, reflecting on successes and challenges and planning next steps … all which link to a student's future pathway. Now that the conferences have come around, I’m merely a supporter of the student as they present what is essentially the result of an inquiry into themselves.


2. Students are empowered with data about their own learning:

Never before have I, as a teacher, had access to so much data about my students. My school uses the KAMAR system where I can readily access data about a students attendance, moderated and unmoderated assessments, standards they are entered for and much, much more. Sharing this data with the students makes their successes and challenges transparent and is a great starting point for analysis, reflection, and goal setting. It also empowers students to have greater knowledge of NCEA which allows them to personalize their learning programme to suit them.


3. Having a holistic picture of the student allows me to better support the student:

In a traditional Secondary school a teacher may have little knowledge or experience of a student beyond their subject. When it comes to parent-teacher interviews, their advice is narrow is its focus with conversation rarely evolving beyond behavior and achievement in their classroom. Moving through the student-led conference process with students allows me to see patterns, identify skills that need development and see the challenges a student may face from a holistic perspective. As a result  I am able to better support the student and whanau in planning next steps, instead of leaving students and whanau to piece it together themselves.


4. It shines a light on my own practice:

During this process I have been challenged to understand the facilitation and demands of curriculum subjects other than my own. I have learned about folios and courses heavily focused on externals, as well as many different ways courses are facilitated. I have also witnessed students making cross-curricular links. One of my students discussed in her student-led conference how she applied her learning about skin cancer in Science to the topic of her writing in English … which has me thinking about how I can better support students and work with other teachers to develop such cross curricular links further.


5. Positive parent feedback:

I love watching a student beam as their whanau tells them, “Wow, I’m really proud of you!” Parents seem truly engaged in what their student is sharing in their confrences. Also, I feel that this style of conferencing breaks down barriers between school and families. Today, I participated in a conference in which the student discussed her progress with her mother in Vietnamese. I can’t help think that that parent may have been much less likely to attend parent-teacher conferences if she was faced with 5 one-on-one conferences in English.


6. Motivating

Even as we are quickly approaching the end of Term 2, my students are feeling motivated and driven as they look towards Term 3. They now all have in place ‘next steps’ and a focus for next term which they have determined for themselves. They can see how what they are doing now contributes to where they want to be in the future!

So, overall I’m sold on student-led conferences. I have been impressed by the quality of reflection and planning done by my students and happy to step back as they lead the charge in the next steps of their learning journey.