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October 9, 2015 Student-Led Conferences Part One: Preparation By Kriscia Cabral
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Conferences give parents the opportunity to take a peek at what learning looks like for their child. For me, this is the time to show parents their child's growth and progress. I want parents to see where their child is and where they hope to go with their learning. In thinking about how to structure the conferences, it occurred to me, "Why not let the child own their learning, growth, and progress and have them share with their parents how things are going?"

    Use these quick tips to turn your conferences with parents into a student-led meeting, where all parties are partners who play an important role in the learning process of the child.

    Goal Setting

    1.     Identifying Known Areas and Areas to Explore

    • I preach growth mindset in my homeroom. At the beginning of the year we note New, Not Yet, and Strong connections in our learning.

    • We talk about the Strong areas and why they are strong (because we practice them often) versus the Not Yet and New areas (things we don’t practice as often).

    • Students then designate areas of Not Yet that they want to focus on and make those connections in their brain stronger.

    • After watching a couple of goal setting videos found on YouTube, students get to work on their own goals.

    2.     Choosing Areas to Improve

    Students then create a stair-step visual to represent where they are starting with their New or Not Yet learning and where they want to be at the end of the process.

    This step involves a lot of conversation about progress. I compare it to crawling before walking, or learning to ride a tricycle before a bicycle. If a student’s goal is to become fluent in division, for instance, and they do not know multiplication, this becomes one of their steps along the way to their goal.

    Students work on this piece individually and write down what they personally feel they need to do to reach these goals.

    3.     Individual Meetings

    The next step is to meet with each student and evaluate what goals they have written on their Personal Learning Goals sheet. I discuss with students all of the assessment data I have on them thus far. We talk about reading levels and what I’ve observed in math, writing, and social situations. I share examples of work that has been completed so far, and together we discuss if the right goals have been set. Students are then given an opportunity to evaluate and decide if they want to stick with their current goal and plan, or if they want to make changes before sharing with parents.

    4.     Gather Materials to Share

    I gather student planning sheets and all evidence of learning (assessments, writing samples, etc.) and keep everything in a file folder, ready for conference time.

    5.    Invite Parents as Partners

    The last step in this pre-conference preparation stage is to invite parents to sign up for a conference, and to let them know that their child will be leading the meeting. This parent invitation email is brief and is used as a reminder that there will be at least three of us present for our gathering.

    What comes next is a student-led meeting that shows the value of student voice. Check in next month to read how to conduct your conference with your students taking the lead. I will show you three quick strategies to transform the student from a passive to an active partner in their own learning.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

    Conferences give parents the opportunity to take a peek at what learning looks like for their child. For me, this is the time to show parents their child's growth and progress. I want parents to see where their child is and where they hope to go with their learning. In thinking about how to structure the conferences, it occurred to me, "Why not let the child own their learning, growth, and progress and have them share with their parents how things are going?"

    Use these quick tips to turn your conferences with parents into a student-led meeting, where all parties are partners who play an important role in the learning process of the child.

    Goal Setting

    1.     Identifying Known Areas and Areas to Explore

    • I preach growth mindset in my homeroom. At the beginning of the year we note New, Not Yet, and Strong connections in our learning.

    • We talk about the Strong areas and why they are strong (because we practice them often) versus the Not Yet and New areas (things we don’t practice as often).

    • Students then designate areas of Not Yet that they want to focus on and make those connections in their brain stronger.

    • After watching a couple of goal setting videos found on YouTube, students get to work on their own goals.

    2.     Choosing Areas to Improve

    Students then create a stair-step visual to represent where they are starting with their New or Not Yet learning and where they want to be at the end of the process.

    This step involves a lot of conversation about progress. I compare it to crawling before walking, or learning to ride a tricycle before a bicycle. If a student’s goal is to become fluent in division, for instance, and they do not know multiplication, this becomes one of their steps along the way to their goal.

    Students work on this piece individually and write down what they personally feel they need to do to reach these goals.

    3.     Individual Meetings

    The next step is to meet with each student and evaluate what goals they have written on their Personal Learning Goals sheet. I discuss with students all of the assessment data I have on them thus far. We talk about reading levels and what I’ve observed in math, writing, and social situations. I share examples of work that has been completed so far, and together we discuss if the right goals have been set. Students are then given an opportunity to evaluate and decide if they want to stick with their current goal and plan, or if they want to make changes before sharing with parents.

    4.     Gather Materials to Share

    I gather student planning sheets and all evidence of learning (assessments, writing samples, etc.) and keep everything in a file folder, ready for conference time.

    5.    Invite Parents as Partners

    The last step in this pre-conference preparation stage is to invite parents to sign up for a conference, and to let them know that their child will be leading the meeting. This parent invitation email is brief and is used as a reminder that there will be at least three of us present for our gathering.

    What comes next is a student-led meeting that shows the value of student voice. Check in next month to read how to conduct your conference with your students taking the lead. I will show you three quick strategies to transform the student from a passive to an active partner in their own learning.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

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