Student-led conferences are a fantastic way for students to take ownership of their learning and for teachers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their student’s abilities and progress. However, it can be overwhelming for students and teachers if not properly planned and executed.
In this blog post, you’ll find three strategies to help make student led conferences work upper elementary teachers. By preparing yourself (and your students!) with these strategies, you’ll be ready to make the most of this valuable process.
1. Keep It Simple and Focused
Student led conferences don’t have to be overly complicated. Try to avoid adding too many components or getting into too much detail about each subject, especially if this is your first time using this format.
Keep the focus on the student and their progress toward learning goals. The best way to do this is with student self-reflection. This could include the student’s strengths, areas for improvement, and any specific goals or plans for the future.
Students can complete their self-reflection before the conference and make a goal with their guest during their conference. This helps keep students accountable and gets their guest involved in their progress, too!
2. Model for Your Students
My best tip to make student led conferences work for your students is to provide a script. (It doesn’t have to be a written script of everything they have to say, but more of a guide for the flow of the conference. See the image above with the yellow paper for an example!) This will show students where to start, what order to go in, and what they need to cover. Go through the paperwork that will be included in their folder or portfolio, too. Let students become familiar with the forms or work samples, so they know what to expect.
It can be helpful for students to see an example role play of a conference before they have to participate in one themselves. Model a few conferences for them and discuss specific strategies that you think will make them successful. This will help them build confidence in their ability to lead an effective conference with their guest.
3. Go Digital
Student led conferences don’t have to take place in person anymore! You can use digital tools such as video conferencing or online portfolios to host conferences. This can be a great way to save time (and energy rescheduling those who can’t attend) while still getting the same level of engagement from your students and their guest.
Allowing your students to create a digital portfolio is a great way to integrate technology into the classroom. A digital portfolio can travel with students through each grade level and be used to track student progress over time.
With a digital portfolio, students can showcase their work, reflect on their learning and accomplishments, and engage in self-assessment. It also simplifies the process for teachers to monitor students’ progress over the long term.
There are many platforms available that allow students to create digital portfolios of their work. These portfolios can include a variety of media, such as documents, images, audio recordings, and videos.
By following these three strategies, you can make student led conferences work for you and help ensure they benefit you and your students! With some practice and preparation, you will find that student led conferences can be an effective way to promote learning in your classroom.