At the end of the first quarter, teachers at my school are expected to hold conferences with each child's parents. This is the third year that I have chosen to do student-led conferences, and I don't plan on ever turning back! Let me tell you why:

  • It takes a LOT of pressure off of me. Students do a lot of the preparation and the spotlight is on them. 
  • Students take responsibility for their own learning, behavior, and progress. 
  • Students get to practice their speaking and presenting skills. 
  • Parents see their child in an environment and situation that they do not typically get to observe. 
  • Teachers can see how students interact with their parents, and parents can see how their children interact with the teacher. 
  • Students, parents, and the teacher work together as a team to set goals and determine next steps. 
It is truly amazing. It's an excellent learning experience for the students - and for the adults - and the sense of pride they walk away with is priceless!

When I first started researching student-led conferences, I read two super helpful blog posts: this one by Brooke Brown and this one by Alisha from Missing Tooth Grins.

I actually use most of Brooke's student-led conference product combined with some of my own handouts that I create for the students and parents.

In the weeks leading up to conferences, we prepare a little bit at a time by completing about one page a day. (This includes self-evaluation checklists and work samples.) Students keep everything in their data folders. Once all the papers and work samples are ready to go, we start practicing! We make two lines in the hallway: one for students and one for "parents." Students buddy up and take turns presenting their conference materials.

They begin by welcoming their parent to the classroom, saying hello to me, and telling their parent where they can sit down. Then, they just follow their checklist!

Yes, this takes some class time - maybe 20 minutes a day for a few days - but I believe that the time is valued by building those speaking and presentation skills.

Conferences last for about 15 minutes, but I keep a buffer of 5 minutes between conferences just in case one runs over! Any behavioral or academic concerns that need to be addressed with the parent should come as no surprise to both the parents and the student. I think it's a great chance for all three parties to talk together to hold students accountable for making improvements.

If parents don't bring their students, I simply use the materials that they prepared to hold the conference. It goes just fine.

Are you thinking about trying student-led conferences? Let me know in a comment below!