This post is from February 2015. We have continued to facilitate Student-Led conferences since then.
We just finished first quarter Student-Led Conferences at Birch. We had smiles, tears, adiposity proud moments, hygiene realizations, plans for new habits and improved organization. and overall progression towards improvement.
This is the second year we have embraced the Student Led Conference Model. Our middle and high school students plan their time using a script and rating scale. They choose samples of their work to show and share with parents and teachers. Students get to manage the flow of the meeting, and the learning happens on several levels.
We see students attempting to be truly honest with themselves and their parents. Sometimes they admit to being distracted or lazy, surprising the adults. We always remark that the students know more than they let on. The often realize the areas that they need to improve on, and teachers don’t have to point them out. During conferences, when parent or teacher helps students see aspects of their learning in a new light, students are often willing to be self reflective. The focus of the conference stays centered on improvement: replication of successful habits and refinement of others.
Parent feedback has been positive. The format allows students to communicate about their work. Parents have opportunities to ask their kids questions about their work, and students’ strengths and struggles become evident. It is easier for parents to accept their students’ shortcomings when they can see that everyone is aware of them and working towards improving.