Student led conferences

What is a student led conference?

A student led conference is a meeting run by the student for his or her parents,
 entirely focused on the student's recent learning. During the conference the student presents work in different curriculum areas, discussing the process of learning and the progress made to date.

Why have student led conferences?

Point Chevalier School has been involved in a number of initiatives over the years, all focused on improving student achievement. Through this involvement our experiences confirm all the research we have read — developing students' ability to talk about their learning and their progress makes a difference!

The research about student led conferences

Professor John Hattie (formerly University of Auckland)  recently published a revised list of the most effective influences on student achievement which  identifies student self-reporting as the most significant indicator linked to raised student achievement.

Two other international researchers, Black & Wiliam, further comment, "the process of students reflecting on their learning, through effective questioning that promotes the articulation of student thinking, is integral to classroom assessment practices that enhance student learning".

‘If the focus is to be kept on learning, and the ownership of the learning with the child, then the best person to talk about the learning is the learner’... ‘Not only is the student the best person to tell their parents what they have learnt, but if we believe that students build their knowledge by communicating what they know, then providing an opportunity for the students to tell their family what they know can significantly assist with that learning.' Absolum, (2006)

Research also shows parental involvement in schools and classrooms has a positive impact on children’s learning (Bastiani; Epstein).

In helping to strengthen the partnership between the learner, the teacher and the parent, we believe student led conferences promote some ways learning can also be supported at home. This is a key goal in the introduction of National Standards in New Zealand schools.

  • Absolum, M. (2006) Clarity in the Classroom, Auckland, Hodder.
  • Bastiani, J. (1988) How Many Parents Did You See Last Night?' A critical look at some of the problems of evaluating home/school practice.' In J. Bastiani (ed.) Parents and teachers 2: From policy to practice. Windsor: nfer Nelson 206–218.
  • Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998) Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, October, 139–148.
  • Epstein, J. L. (1986) Parents’ reactions to teacher practices of parent involvement. Elementary School Journal, 86, 277–294.
  • Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

How do student led conferences work?

Conferences can last up to 45 minutes. You do not have to stay this long if your child has finished sharing his/her learning. Four or five student led conferences will be held at the same time in your child’s classroom. You can 'flow' into a conference slightly earlier or later if the teacher indicates there is space when you arrive. Each child will have a basic agenda that they will follow.

You will be involved in a variety of activities during the time — looking at samples of learning, doing an activity to support learning, talking about goals and what your child, you and the teacher might do to support these goals, looking at work around the classroom.

At some point during your conference, your child's teacher will spend some time with you. This time will allow the teacher to expand on the information your child has shared or for you to clarify something if necessary.

Please be mindful that distractions make it difficult for your child and others in the room to stay focused. We ask that parents turn off cellphones and that pre-schoolers not attend. A room for child-minding will be made available if you are unable to make your own arrangements.

What will I need to do to support my child?

Before the conference:

  • Discuss attendance with estranged partner if necessary— each child will run only one conference so all parties need to attend this.
  • Book a time and put it in your diary (details notified in school newsletter).
  • Check the prompts and important things to remember list (below).

On the conference day:

  • Come — with your child.
  • Listen — your child will do most of the talking.
  • S/he will discuss with you the expected achievement levels, his/her progress towards these levels and current learning goals.

Your job:

  • Prompt to support your child if necessary (prompt cards will be provided in the classroom).
  • Enjoy the opportunity to see your child in his/her key learning environment.
  • Celebrate your child's progress to date.
  • Write a comment in the Visitor's Book.

After the conference:

  • Continue to celebrate your child's successes and support their goals.

Prompts to support your child

  • What were you learning to do in this piece of work?
  • What were the steps you went through to learn this
  • What helped you to learn this?
  • What do you need to learn next?
  • What are you most proud of? Why?
  • Tell me where you are in … reading/writing/numeracy
  • Which area of learning do you find easiest? Why?
  • Which area of learning do you find trickiest? Why?
  • What could we do together to help you with this learning?

Important things to remember

Your child will run this conference—not you, not the teacher! Your child must be here.

As part of their regular learning, all students have been putting considerable time and energy into preparing for this. If you cannot attend, please arrange for another significant adult in your child’s life to come to the conference.

The conference is about learning—not behaviour or social issues. (If you or the teacher have concerns here, discussions should already have been held).

Make arrangements for the care of any pre-schoolers in your family. It would be unfair to all students in the room to have any distractions as they share their learning. Supervision is available for school age children.

We may be filming some of the conferences so that teachers can use this to inform their learning.