a student leading her parent teacher conference

8 reasons why my students lead their own conferences

From promoting student agency to developing metacognitive skills, student-led conferences are the way to go

4. Students develop metacognitive skills.
The art of reflection helps propel us all forward. By giving students opportunities to practice this skill, we teach them how to dive deep into learning. Students begin to internalize what they have learned, how mistakes help us grow, and set goals for the future that they are accountable for. Using a digital portfolio to provide evidence with captions that supports their thinking helps students develop clear communication skills. Reflective practices are very powerful.

5. Students engage in a productive struggle.
It can be challenging to identify pieces of work that support what students want to discuss during a conference. Curating evidence is a struggle for students, as it brings to light what they need to work on. This struggle helps push students toward being self-directed learners.

Related: How ‘productive struggle’ can lead to deeper learning

6. Learning is personal.
Every individual learns best in different ways, and the sooner students can figure out how they learn best, the more successful they will be at choosing the right support tools. Teachers and parents should be part of the conversation, listening to what a student needs to grasp skills and concepts. It should not be the student listening to what the teacher and parents think.

7. Collaboration with peer feedback.
In preparing for student-led conferences, having the children share their thoughts and ideas with others and elicit feedback is instrumental. Students told me they wished we did more of that as their classmates gave valuable comments about how to enhance their digital portfolio. Tony Vincent’s feedback chart is a useful tool to support students in understanding how to give and receive feedback.

8. They can share work with people who cannot attend.
The four walls of the classroom are removed with student-led conferences using digital portfolios. Not only can students confidently go home and discuss their conference with relatives who could not attend, but they can also share their portfolio. This provides further conversation where students can take ownership of their learning and continue their journey towards self-actualization.

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