Our first-ever student-led conferences for big kids were a huge hit! You can read more about our process (and about how we used digital tools like Career Cruising and Seesaw here!)
As a teacher, I loved that I was able to listen more than talk. Students were in charge of sharing, showing, and answering their parents’ questions.
We had planned carefully and had resources, inventories, and examples of student work ready to go. Students also had opportunities to practice ahead of time (and to review a sample ‘script’ for their conversation with their parents.)
Personally, I really appreciated that the conversations were not about grades: our thinking was that (considering that parents have access to up-to-date grade information in real time AND that they see lots of glimpses into teachers’ classrooms through Seesaw) this conference was more about student plans, goals, and self-evaluation.
The best part? Our attendance was phenomenal! We had attached NO punishment, strings, or consequences…we were just excited to strive for a goal of 95% student attendance.
We had workarounds in place for students who were able to come without their parents; in fact, I played the role of parent for one 8th grade student who came without an adult and was happy to do so. Other adults did the same as needed.
On a whim, our principal and guidance counselor announced to students that they would shave their heads if 95% of students attended the conferences. (Hey, it was our first time to try this format, and I don’t think anybody really thought we’d hit that mark. For reference, our spring conferences a year ago had 25% parent attendance….)
But lo and behold, our students CRUSHED the goal, with SEVEN seminar classes (including mine!) having perfect attendance and only about 12 total students from grades 7-12 not attending at all.
Truly, it was one of the best school events in recent memory (right up there with my personal faves like Hunger Games Day, filming our all-school lip dub video, etc.) The morale was excellent and it was amazing to see our gym full of excited teachers, students, and parents all working together to make these conferences a success.
Have you tried student-led conferences with big kids? Find me on Twitter and let me know how it worked for you!