Are you looking for an effective way to conduct parent-teacher conferences? Why not have your students be in charge? Student-led conferences will not only strengthen open communication between home and school, but the positive vibe will have everyone smiling.

What will students gain from student-led conferences?

Students will:

  • gain ownership of their work.
  • become accountable for their efforts and habits.
  • see that their parents and teacher value their opinions.
  • gain responsibility.
  • be empowered.
  • experience support from parents and teacher.

How will parents react?

Parents will:

  • feel less threatened coming to the school.
  • enjoy watching their student take responsibility and show pride in their work.
  • see that the teacher values their child’s input.
  • be able to show their child that they support him/her.
  • have a better understanding of their child’s future goals.
  • be a part of a collaborative group aimed to develop actionable strategies to help their child.

What is an effective way to conduct student-led conferences?

Before the conference:

  1. At the beginning of the year or grading period, collect student work. This can be done by asking students to return their TAKE HOME folders each week. Create a hanging file folder for each student and save their collected work in it. 
  2. Also at the beginning of the year or grading period, start a portfolio for each student. This can be a 3-prong folder with pockets. Either choose or have the students choose their best work to place in the portfolio. You might want it to be specific like a writing portfolio. Add to it throughout the year.
  3. Have students fill out the following information to present at the conference:

  • self-evaluation of behavior, class participation, study habits, responsibility, and/or efforts
  • grades
  • test scores
  • standards accomplished
  • reflections or thoughts of progress
  • attainable SMART goals
  • actionable strategies

During the conference:

  1. Have students present their work, show a skill, and share thoughts and goals.
  2. Discuss their presentation. More than likely they will be brutally honest, but teachers can give input too!
  3. Participate by guiding the student and/or asking questions.
  4. Explain test scores and progress.
  5. Review goals and adjust if needed.
  6. Develop strategies to meet the goals.
  7. Encourage parents to participate in developing strategies.
  8. Compliment the student on their accomplishments and leadership skills.

After the conference:

  1. Help students achieve their goals. (Check in weekly.)
  2. Remind students to add to their portfolios.
  3. Optional- provide a reward for meeting goals.

What should students do to prepare for the conference?

  1. Keep a portfolio of your best work.
  2. Look through your work from the past few weeks or grading period.
  3. Gather notebooks used in class.
  4. Write notes to remember what you want to discuss. (You can use sticky notes to mark the pages.)
  5. Find something that you recently learned to teach your parents. (Point out a strategy or poster in the room and explain, show them your notebook and explain a problem, explain how you used the writing process to create a story, or describe the steps you took to comprehend a text.)
  6. Track your progress whether it is through your work or through test scores.
  7. Complete the self-evaluation form, reflection on your progress, and your short-term and long-term goals.
  8. Practice what you want to share. Use the forms to guide your thoughts.
  9. Be honest. Everyone at the meeting is there to help you.
  10. Take pride in your hard work and leadership!

What if the student can’t attend?

No problem! Use their forms to guide the conference. Explain his or her progress through the child’s eyes.

I hope you found these ideas helpful to conduct student-led conferences! Your students and parents will LOVE it!