Monday, March 12, 2018

Student Voice Through Student Led Conferences #StuVoice

One of the many things I love about my new job is that conferences with parents are not like they are in many places. University Liggett Middle School has Student Led Conferences in place and it is one of the best ways to give students a voice in their education. First, let me break down how we do SLCs.

Every teacher has a group of students from the same grade for 20 minutes a day. We call this advisory. We help kids get organized, email parents about upcoming projects, and generally check in to see how things are going. It acts like a homeroom for the students in the Middle School. I have 9 8th grade boys in my advisory. SLCs run through the advisory class.

Instead of the traditional model of conferences where parents meet every teacher for 10-15 minutes, the student prepare a presentation on how they are doing in each class, what their strengths and weaknesses are, their goals for the coming months, and how they worked on their previous goals. The advisor for the students sits back and only comments if a student has skipped over an aspect they should cover or give the student the credit they deserve for good things going on they might not think are important. Students run the 30 minute block of time with their parents and provide artifacts of their learning for each class. This evidence is key in supporting claims they are making about their learning in each class. I wasn't sure how this was going to work when it started, but it has been awesome to see students take ownership of their learning in this way.

As students prepare for the SLC, they are working with their teachers and advisor to create a presentation that best represents the work they are doing in class. Teachers prepare template slides in Google to help pinpoint the main areas of focus for their content area that were covered for that marking period. The students use advisory time to check in and work on their presentation. We do not require students to use the slides, but they are there if they need them. Most importantly, we are trying to set students up to have a conversation about their education that goes beyond the grades that are on the report card.

Giving students the opportunity to have an active voice in the conversation about their learning should not be a novel idea, but it really is. At the high school level, I was always frustrated that I would meet with parents to discuss the learning habits of their 16 year old child, they would go back and relay what I said, and the student would come back and tell me what the parent said based on what I said. That is a nutty way to communicate about education with a learner who is old enough to have a voice in the conversation. SLCs at Liggett are the perfect way for students to start thinking about their learning in terms of an ongoing conversation instead of a series of benchmarks when the report card shows up.

Students can take more ownership of their learning if they can have a bigger voice. One of my favorite parts of the SLC is the end part where the students tells the parents and teachers what they feel they need from them to be successful moving forward. I love it because it requires the students to think about the overall process of learning and how their community can help them achieve their goals.

I think Student Led Conference are an excellent way to give students a larger voice in their education that allows them to take more ownership of their learning. In the grand scheme of things, that is what we are hoping to do as educators.

Do you do Student Led Conferences? Please leave a comment so we can share the different ways it works.


1 comment:

  1. we have tried, but we are not quite there yet. It was good to read this and be reminded of what we really would like to achieve at my school. Thank you for sharing.


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