|To view the entire article from the Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting: http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/eecearchive/digests/1997/hackma97.html
This conference format is becoming an accepted alternative to the traditional parent/teacher conference, in which the student is left out. The goals of this conference format is to increase positive communication between students and their parents and teachers in the following ways (Guyton & Feilstein, 1989; Hackmann, 1996 Hackmann, Kenworthy, & Nibbelink, 1995; Little & Allen, 1989):
- to encourage students to accept personal responsibility for their academic performance;
- to teach students the process of self0-evaluation;
- to facilitate the development of students’ organizational and oral communication skills and to increase their self-confidence;
- to encourage students, parents, and teachers to engage in open and honest dialogue;
- and to increase parent attendance at conferences
Why are faculties exploring this new conference technique?
Teachers, parents, and students report exceptional success and satisfaction with this format. Parents attend this student-led format to a higher degree than the traditional parent/teacher conference. Students feel comfortable in this supportive environment and parents appreciate hearing specifically from their children on their academic progress.
Although student-led conferences vary from school to school even within districts, one characteristic remains constant: the student leads the the discussion. Students gain self-confidence in oral communication.
What exactly is a student-led conference?
According to Donald G. Hackmann it is important “to see the conference as a process and not an event.” It should be seen as part of a student’s ongoing educational progress.
The teacher must be responsible for preparing her students in the following ways:
- Assist them at the beginning of the year in identifying academic, social, and physical goals. This can be done as a shared conference with teacher, student, and parents;
- instruct them specifically on how to lead the conference;
- assist them in collecting appropriate information and artifacts to share with parents during conference;
- relate to them that they are responsible for work not completed and excuses are not acceptable;
- provide them with time for role-playing activities with student-partners to simulate the conference (Guyton and Fielstein, 1996);
- provide parents with a list of sample questions to ask their children during the conference. (Hackmann, 1997)
- notify parents of the new roles involved in this student-led conference format.
Most student-led conferences are conducted with parents and student with the teacher present throughout the conference. Parents find this most satisfactory.
There are usually two ways in which conferences are conducted:
- the teacher personally attends each student/parent conference;
- teachers schedule 4-5 conferences simultaneously with the teacher moving around the classroom and attending to groups as needed.
The student chooses artifacts that are indicative of and appropriate to his progress and grade…
- test and homework scores;
- homework assignments and projects;
- records of class attendance and class participation;
- the number and type of missing assignments.
The student explains to the parents why each was selected in light of his goals. The conference would also cover a discussion of social and physical goals and focus on progressive goals in the upcoming grading period.
Students, parents, and teachers should be offered a way to evaluate the conference so that schools can fine-tune the process. Evaluation is viatl in order for the school to be responsive to parent and student needs.
Additionally, there should be a method in place for parents to be able to speak with teachers without their children present if desired. Some schools have even offered parents the choice between a traditional parent-teacher conference and the student-led conference (Hackmann, Kenwortby, and Nibbelink).