Student led conferences are a game-changer. Now, more than ever, they are an important part of the educational experience for students with social distancing in place. You CAN still hold student led conferences this year no matter your situation – virtual, hybrid, or in-person.
Virtual student led conferences still use all of the same components as traditional, in-person student led conferences. (To learn more about traditional student led conferences, read this post.) You will need to make some tweaks to make things work in a virtual setting.
Use Google Forms™ to send parents the pre-conference questionnaire. You’ll get a nice, organized spreadsheet of the responses, which also makes it super easy for you to see who you haven’t heard from. If there are questions or concerns about things that can be addressed during the student led conference, you can include the data or information for parents on students’ conference forms.
You will need to schedule a video or phone chat with parents to answer any questions they may have after the student led conference. Use an online scheduler, like SignUpGenius.com, to take the hassle out of getting all parents scheduled.
With traditional student led conferences, the forms are a big part of what teachers need to prep. For a virtual student led conference, the forms become a digital portfolio.
I created a digital Student Led Conference Portfolio Google Slides™ for virtual student led conferences. They follow the same format as the printable forms but are reformatted to look like a notebook. Digital portfolios work with any conference but are great for distance learning.
If you are using Google Classroom™, you can “assign” student led conference portfolios to students to distribute materials. The tricky part of doing this virtually is getting the personalized data sheets (Conference Reports) to each student, which will need to be done separately or individually after distributing portfolios.
STUDENT LED CONFERENCE
Students can conduct their conferences with their parents at any time before the scheduled chat with you. If you’re using Google Classroom, have students “submit” their portfolio to you once they’ve finished their conference. You will be able to see that the conference is complete, and you can review their goals, questions, etc. that they filled in during their conference.
VIDEO OR PHONE CHAT
Email parents a few days before their scheduled chat with you to make sure they know how you’ll be “meeting.” If you’re going the video chat route, use the same platform that you use for distance learning to avoid any hiccups with a different platform. If their child is familiar with the platform you use daily, it will make connecting easier.
Review the pre-conference questionnaire and student portfolio before the chat so you can answer questions or talk about how you can work as a team to benefit their child’s education. Make notes so you’re ready to go and can stick to your scheduled timeframe.
Use Google Forms™ to gain helpful anonymous feedback from parents and students about student led conferences. I know – asking for anonymous feedback can be HARD. But getting feedback is the best way to grow and improve.
BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL STUDENT LED CONFERENCES (BEYOND 2020)
- There are usually some families who are unable to attend conferences. You can still include all families with the virtual model.
- You save a LOT of paper. No more printing and handwriting forms!
- Digital portfolios are easy to manage, and you can have students work on them at any point in the school year.
- If you’re a 1:1 school or adding more tech into your teaching, this is an excellent way to teaching students life skills through building their digital portfolio and conducting their presentation (conference).