Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Organising Student-Led Conferences

I LOVE Student Led Conferences. There is a lot of organisation but every minute spent is worth it.

If I had to say what the MOST important aspects of the Student-Led Conference are, they would be this:

1. Student controls the conference. In past years, a week before the conferences, I gave my students a planning page which have the Essential Qualities of a JIS Learner in a table format. The students commented on their learning as Creative Individuals, Collaborative Workers, Effective Communicators, Self-Directed Positive Learners, Adaptable Learners, Problem Solvers and Responsible World Citizens. The next step was to go through their collection portfolio of work, digital portfolio, class folders of photographs, etc. to gather the best evidence they had to support what they said about their learning. Once they had organised the various pieces and knew what they would say, they practised with a peer who acted as parent, or with the Learning Support teacher or EAL teacher if they preferred. They could use post-it notes as memory aids and they saved a folder of their digital pieces on the Smartboard desktop once all their links were checked. Being well prepared means students have confidence! This is a big deal for them!

This year we have adopted Learning Competencies.
  • Being Resourceful
  • Relating to Others
  • Managing Self
  • Contributing
We also have JIS Values. We value: 

  • Perseverance
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Compassion
  • Balance
  • Fun
Using these as a basis for the reflections would be another approach that could be used and I am thinking I might use these also, although the JIS Learner EQs have definitions that are helpful in identifying what they look like.

2. Teacher sits apart from the student and parents. I find if the teacher sits at the table, even if the child is leading the conference, the child and parents will defer to the teacher. I might join the group once the child has finished, if my input is needed at that time.

3. Students and parents confer in whichever language best assists understanding of the student's learning. Sometimes students speak quite good English but one or other parent doesn't. Or the student is new to English. I may not understand what's being said, but for this purpose, I don't need to.

4. Parents know in advance what this conference will be like. A letter explaining the format goes home beforehand, so parents know that their child is in charge. They are encouraged to ask thoughtful questions about the learning.

5. Ask for feedback from Parents and Students.
In ten years, I have found post conference reflections are always positive!

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