Most of us are familiar with the parent-teacher conference. It’s a time when teachers meet with the parents of their students to discuss performance and how the child is progressing. However, in recent years, many schools are trying a new approach.
They are called Student-led conferences and they seek to understand the why behind your child’s academic endeavors. While typical parent-teacher conferences can be very informative and helpful for the parent and teacher, this new method includes the student and gives them more responsibility for their education.
How Does It Work?
Student-led conferences are designed to have the student sit down with the parents, show them some of their work, and explain their grades. Teachers are nearby to assist the students and to also add their own opinion or report of the child’s progress. Some also allow for separate teacher-only conferences to be held later.
The format can differ by teacher or teacher team. Some are structured a bit like an open house where parents and students visit each classroom separately, while other teacher teams decide to hold the conference as a whole in the same room.
Preparation for these conferences is handled primarily by the student themselves. Typically, at the beginning of the school year, teachers will give each student a folder to put together a portfolio of their progress and graded work.
As the time for conferences draw near, students get their folders neatly arranged and prepared for their parents, including a prepared script of sorts. This helps the child to put their thoughts on their classroom behavior, grades, and learning achievements into words, as well as to keep them on task during the conference as nervousness may set in.
Many teachers also role play with their students during the week before conferences are held, giving the students an example of what they should say and how to respond to questions. This also gives them a bit of practice, which helps to calm their nerves.
Pros and Cons
Students, teachers, and parents across the nation agree that one of the biggest advantages to this type of conference is that it makes the student take more responsibility for their education. They begin to understand that they are in charge of their own efforts and they alone can change the outcome.
Most students enjoy being able to share their side of the story and thoughts. And most parents agree that both themselves and their child come away with a better understanding of their child’s learning process, strengths, and weaknesses.
However, for students whose parents aren’t as involved, their preparation leads to disappointment when parents do not attend. Other parents have reservations on hearing from primarily just their child and still like to talk to the teacher more.
With so many new ideas entering school on a daily basis, it’s easy to become skeptical. But keep an open mind about this one for sure. You just might find that Student-led conferences benefit your child far better than the more common parent-teacher conferences .