Student-Led Conferences have become the norm in many schools around the world, as they provide an opportunity for students to address their own learning in the context of their adult stakeholders. During the conference, students explain and demonstrate what they are learning in class, focusing on new skills and knowledge that they have mastered during the year. An example, a student might show several drafts of a writing assignment, presenting how sensory detail was added in the later drafts, giving the paper greater impact on the reader. The student would take time to explain a specific example of an improved sentence. These specific examples and improvements would be presented for each course, giving students time to personally reflect on how they are pursuing success in class.
In addition to academics, students also discuss their goals, and to what extent they are meeting the acceptable guidelines of our Success Orientations. Goal planning is an important part of the first conference in the fall, as teachers share newly created classroom goals with students, based on evidence from MAP testing, or perceived difficulties with the group. Over several months, students work on these goals, striving to meet expectations. This winter conference is an opportunity for them to share where they are at on the spectrum of success with their personal and class goals.
In the end, the conferences serve as a chance for students to take true ownership of their learning and attitudes. By turning the microphone of the conference over to the students, we allow them not only to show their strengths, but to experience the support of all during moments of personal vulnerability. Students, parents, and teachers all hope for success in school, and this meeting helps each to realign their vision toward student success.