Organizing for Conferences

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It’s not too early to get organized for conferences, like spring, they will be here before we know it.  When I was serving as a learning specialist with the task of converting a junior high to a middle school, I encountered student-led conferences.  Like we all do when we encounter something new and appealing, we learn everything we can about it, which is just what I did.  After the principal had given me the assignment to implement student-led conferences for the midterm of the fall semester, I knew I had to develop a plan to help teachers, students, and parents get ready for something new.  Before I even read the teacher evaluations, I knew that we had accomplished something worthwhile and almost magical for students and their families.  The response from teachers, parents, and students was overwhelmingly positive.

“Student-led conferences represent a highly effective way to communicate directly and authentically with parents.  When students direct the reporting process, information is communicated in a form everyone can understand and use.  Reviewing the portfolio during the conference becomes a learning experience for everyone involved.  As such, student-led conferences are an especially important part of the comprehensive reporting system” (Guskey & Bailey, 2001, pp. 190-199).48624870947801276_nttUHrJd_b

If you’re ready to try something new for conferences, we highly recommend student-led conferences and with that thought in mind, we have created two guides to implementing student-led conferences for middle school (grades 6, 7, and 8) and intermediate schools (grades 4, 5, and 6). The key word in this product is COMPLETE, it truly is a Complete Guide to Planning and Implementing Student-Led Conferences in Your Middle School or Elementary School and it is really just three steps:  Plan, Practice, Perform.  There are over 20 reproducible pages to facilitate the implementation of Student-Led Conferences in the fall and spring semesters.  The forms that are included are easily adapted to your school.  There are student ice-breaker activities designed for conference night as well as portfolio checklists, content specific reflections and follow-up evaluation forms for teachers, students, and parents.   If your school is not ready to move to Student-Led Conferences, the information included in this packet can be used by a grade level team or individual teacher.  It’s a system that was successfully implemented in a large middle school in an urban area with awesome results.  And, the bottom line is that Student-Led Conferences are good for students!

Guskey, T. R. & Bailey, J. M. (2001). Developing grading and reporting systems for student learning.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

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