Student-Led Conferences

Student-Led Conferences

As always, we go into Student-Led Conferences as a school with only one goal:

More Student Ownership

Too often, during parent-teacher conferences, the parent and teacher talk while the student sits quietly or doesn't attend at all. With student-led conferences the same conversations take place, but with the student leading them. When we're done with this year's conferences, please use the form at the bottom of this page to send us your thoughts - good and bad - so that we can improve the process for next year.


Instructions

As with last year, we will again be holding Student-Led Conferences on Thursday, October 4th from 2 pm to 8 pm. Students will be released at 11:45 am and school lunch will not be served. During conferences, we will have staggered breaks from 5-6 pm to allow teachers to grab a quick bite to eat. Please make note that conferences will be held this day only. If this day or time does not work for you, please feel free to contact the teachers via phone or email. If needed, call the office for help at
‚Äč852-0751. 

When you arrive at the school for the conference, please park in the rear of the building enter the main building from the rear. You will begin in the cafeteria.  Your student will guide you through the rest. In short, you will go over your student's portfolio first, which includes:

Their letter grade in each class
What and how work can be made up
What work they are proud of, and why
How they can improve their work

Once you've discussed all of this with your student, you are welcome – but not required - to visit any teachers in their room. Please keep conversations to around 5 minutes. If you need more time, there will be sign-up sheets outside each teacher’s door. We’ve made some other improvements that should also help speed things along. Most importantly, remember that your student is in charge. It's their grade, their work, and their life; they deserve to have the biggest role in talking about it.

 

 


Notes from Previous Conferences

The first year we did this, we were amazed by the benefits and we had a lot of suggestions for improving the process. Just for the sake of transparency, we've left the summary of that first conference below for those of you with curious minds.

What We Know Worked

We know that more students were talking about school with their parents than was normal. We also know that a lot of that confidence came from a lot of preparation. Teachers walked students through the process of gathering and reflecting on their work, covered grades and how to improve them, and some even role-played the conferences in their classes. Even more than that, students took it seriously. Instead of seeing a hoop, they saw an opportunity to finally take credit for what they did in school. When we said they were in charge, most of them grabbed the reins and set off - in fact, one problem we had ended up being that students were talking so long about their grades. All in all, the student-led conference side was a roaring success.

What We Know Needed to Change

We know from our own observations and from talking to many of you that LINES were the number one issue that needed to be addressed. The part in the gym where you talked with your student passed quickly, but once you went out to meet the teachers, you were met with hallways full of parents and students waiting in lines. Long ones. It often felt like Disneyland: waiting in a 45-minute line for a ride that only lasted 2-3 minutes. 

We realized this very quickly, and gave the following list to teachers before they went home for the night. Lines were almost non-existent the next morning, which probably came partly from our modifications and partly from the smaller number of people that attended on Friday morning.

Feedback From You

  • You love that students are taking charge.
  • You are somewhat confused by the process (which we expected, and which should go away with time).
  • Some few of you would like to meet the teacher without the student. Given our goals for the conference, this would need to be scheduled with the individual teacher.

What We Want to Continue When Meeting Teachers

  • Letting students take charge
  • Confirming information about grades, behavior, etc.
  • Meeting teachers
  • Being patient with lines
  • Talking about opportunities to make up/recover credit
  • Praising students for what they do well
  • Offering suggestions for improvement
  • Redirecting if students start to rehash everything they’re doing in class, or what they've already covered with you in the gym

What We Want to Avoid When Meeting Teachers

  • Letting students rehash what they’ve already discussed in the with their parents. Meeting with the teacher should be a quick chance to confirm what you've already heard, not to make you sit through it again.
  • Letting the parents with major concerns take more than 5 minutes – if it goes that long, the issue probably deserves a scheduled meeting at a later date and time. We realize this can’t always happen, and have made periodic announcements over the intercom to remind both teachers and you that lines are long. Logistically, if each teacher spent 5 minutes with the parents of each student, they would need a minimum of 10 hours. We will probably always have lines, but they don't need to be so long.
  • Requiring all students to come to a teachers classroom. Yes, in a perfect world, you would visit with every teacher. If your student has an A, and you don't have any concerns, you shouldn’t have to come around to every teacher.
  • Giving a grade/extra credit that is only available by coming to the conference. Encouraging students to come is great, but this practice rewards the kids who don’t need it and punishes the students who do – the ones with parents who aren’t involved in their lives. Teachers are now aware of this and will either offer other opportunities for the credit, or will remove the assignment entirely.

Get More Information

Obviously this is a work in progress. If you want to see what went out to each group (parents, students and teachers), download the file below. If you see something we can change for next time, let us know.

Student-Led Conference Forms

Download File