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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Student-Led Family Conferences

I've gone back and forth with regard to student-led parent conferences.

This year my partner teacher and I offered students and families a choice in this regard.

So this week I've had both parent-teacher and student-parent-teacher conferences, and both models have served us well.

I love the way that a student is physically center stage during the student-led conference. He or she uses the showcase portfolio to guide the presentation. It's wonderful to hear the child's voice as he or she reads a poem, story, goal, or reflection.

It's nice to watch the parent-child interaction too. Parents are so proud of their young children and take the time at the conference to highlight their children's strengths as well as to ask questions and voice interests and concerns with regard to the classroom program.

On the other hand, I also like the intimacy and focus of the parent-only conference. It's a time for parents and the teacher to look deeply at a child's overall school program, strengths, and challenges. We can work together to create a helpful path of resources, strategies, and support to make sure that a child has what he or she needs to succeed.

I'm pleased with the choice we offered families this year, and I suppose as the years move forward I'll continue to offer a choice particularly at the second conference of the year--a conference when I know the students and families with greater depth.

How are your family conferences structured? How many times a year do you formally meet with parents and students? What data points, portfolio work, and focus lead these meetings?

I'll return to this post as I plan for next year to think ahead about how I'll structure these events with and for student and their families in the future.