Quotes of the Week
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).
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.