This year, my team partner and I decided to try student-led conferences as a way to alleviate the congestion, empower our kiddos to take ownership over their academics, and promote personal reflection. This type of conferencing has never been part of our school culture, and we're sort of swimming against the grain by changing up our procedures. However, after experiencing student-led conferences today, I am confident that we made the right decision!
We realized that students would need to be explicitly taught how to conduct a conference with their parents. I created a Google Slide with procedures in English and Spanish, and for the two days preceding conferences, we went over the sharing sequence. Students identified work samples they were proud to share with their parents. I was thrilled that many students chose to include the digital stories they made about hunter-gatherers.
One of the most interesting effects of student-led conferences is that some families didn't even need to speak with me, because their student did such a great job covering the bases. Beyond a greeting and a "thank you" as they left, many parents and kids were happy to have had dedicated time to talk together about how things are going at school. The kids were shining because I told them to remember to brag about themselves and the awesome job they're doing.
For the students who are struggling, I was able to have productive conversations with their families about how we could work together to support the students who need it most.