Student-Led Parent/Teacher Conferences
Every teacher knows that it is difficult to lead a parent teacher conference – and yet student-led parent/teacher conferences are growing in popularity in elementary schools across the nation, with students as young as six years old helping their parents and their teachers connect and converse. Why are both parents and teachers finding this new and innovative form of parent/teacher conferences so effective? And how can student-led parent/teacher conferences help children succeed in the classroom?
Students who lead parent/teacher conferences say that they feel more involved in their education and in deciding on their future academic goals. In addition, students feel like they are heard by their parents and teachers instead of talked about behind their back. At the same time, parents feel that talking with their child and their child’s teacher allows them to hear what is happening in school from their kid’s point of view in a way that they allow parents to better focus on their child instead of criticism for the school or the teacher.
How do student-led conferences work? While the structure of the conferences depends on the age of the children involved, most follow a general outline of activities. During each conference the teacher facilitates the meeting while the students shares his progress in school with his parents. The student usually walks his parents through a portfolio highlighting some of his work and may reference notes that he and his teacher have created before the meeting, either in the form of a script or checklist. Students may also share a self evaluation form.
After the student discusses his strengths, areas of improvement, and future goals, the meeting evolves into a conversation in which the teacher and the parents share how they can help support the student and assist him in accomplishing his goals.
Although large-scale studies regarding the effectiveness of student-led conferences have not been conducted, small case studies find that student-led parent/teacher conferences increases a student’s responsibility for learning and that student-led meetings can be especially helpful for those with disabilities or other special considerations.