Student-Led Conferences

The following entries are posts I made on our school Ning reflecting about my experience with SLC’s. This was the first time that this form of conferencing took place at MJGDS. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to have my class chosen to be the first students to lead their own conferences with their parents and teachers.
Many thanks go to Andrea Hernandez (edtechworkshop) who was instrumental in leading the way for SLC’s in our school.
Reflection-November 16th, 2012
What a phenomenal experience I had today. I cannot emphasize enough how important I think student-led conferences are. I am now questioning how educators ever started conferencing with parents only and banning students from the meeting.
Students should own their learning and own their behavior at school and the only way we can truly think this way is to incorporate the student into the equation. Why shouldn’t we? We work with the students daily, not the mother and father.
I reflected yesterday about how I have really gotten to know my students through this process. I have another reflection today. I witnessed a glimpse into the student-parent relationship. I can now understand better why certain behaviors occur at school (both good and not so good).
I am certain that this is the direction our school should take in all grade levels. We should not only be a pioneer with technology, but also other avenues in education and I think this is perhaps the most important avenue of all. Maybe the student is the missing link when it comes to building a successful parent-teacher relationship.
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“All That and a Bag of Chips!”

Yesterday was one of the best days I have had teaching in a very long time. Not that I have been having bad days, but yesterday was one of “those” days when things came together.
Over the past weeks, I have been preparing for tomorrow. I have spent a lot of time on student led conferences and in turn expected (demanded) the students put forth effort into the process.
As I reflected a few weeks ago, the students were less than thrilled about coming in “on their day off” to lead their conference.
As we began to move through the course of preparations, I began to see an evolution among the students.
Student reflection is the major emphasis before the conferences take place. I handed out a checklist for the kids to follow as they made their way through the reflective process, which helped them choose the work they wanted to share, and how to reflect upon it. At first, the reflections were very superficial and I would conference with the students about their responses to try to get them to dig a little deeper. As the process continued, I started seeing several students writing, writing, and writing! The strange thing was that most of the students reflecting deeply were the students who are not my best students academically and behaviorally. The amount of effort from them was amazing.
Yesterday, I read through all of their reflections and this is when I had that “great” moment. I finally understood my students. They poured their hearts and souls into their reflections and I saw what makes them “tick”. For example, I didn’t know that letting students go on the computer after a test was distracting to one student. I didn’t know that one of my students wants to be a Patrol so badly that it brought tears to my eyes when I read his thoughts. The list goes on.
I e-mailed Jon to tell him my insights yesterday and his response back to me was “Let’s hope you feel the same way when it is over!!” As of right now, I don’t know how I could feel any differently about all of this, but as my mother always said “only
time will tell!” I think student led conferences are a must for our school and not just for the upper grades. All grade levels could participate. As a former teacher here used to say, slc’s are “all that and a bag of chips!”
Maybe tomorrow won’t be perfect, but I know Monday, when school resumes that I will be a better teacher because I see my students so differently now. It has brought a sense of community to my room.
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Teacher-Twenty-One

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