Letting Students Lead: The Benefit Of Student Led Conferences

When I first heard about Student Led Conferences, I had my doubts. My students are six and seven years old, and I really didn’t think that they were ready to lead a discussion on their learning. That being said, I was willing to giveĀ Student Led ConferencesĀ a try, and I even started blogging about this topic too. My first blog post resulted in some wonderful comments, where I really started to see this conference format in a whole new light. I then had the benefit of sharing information with @royanlee, @techieang, and @kristenwray, who all gave me many new things to consider. Over the last month, I developed a format that worked for me.

Creating a plan though is very different than carrying it out, and I was worried about what would happen. Even though we practiced a lot, would the students be willing to talk with their parents in the room? Would they really be the leaders that I knew they could be? I shouldn’t have been concerned. The students were fantastic! All of them discussed their progress with ease, and showed their parents what they were learning in the classroom and the tools they were using to help them learn. I was so proud of all of them!

Back in the summer, I had many discussions on Twitter with @gcouros and @sram_socrates about shared leadership and giving the students the opportunity to lead. Thanks to George and Shawn, I have changed my teaching practices a lot this year, and for the better too. The students really are in control of their own learning, and I know that the skills that they are developing will help them as they progress throughout the grades. Seeing this change in my students is one thing, but seeing the parents reflect on this change as they offer feedback on this conference format, is another. Wow! Reading this “wall of feedback” really showed me the true benefit of Student Led Conferences: students taking ownership for their learning.

Having used this format now, I know that I will want all of my future conferences to involve the most important person in the classroom: the student. For those of you that have used this conference format before, I would love to hear your thoughts on it too.


8 thoughts on “Letting Students Lead: The Benefit Of Student Led Conferences

  1. So nice to hear your journey to SLCs. I must say, it’s becoming a familiar one:-) I too went through a similar process, and primary teachers in particular seem to go through that initial questioning stage for good reason.

    I don’t really see how we can achieve anything we hope to transform in education without students taking the lead in reflecting on their learning. One thing I must say, however, is the extent to which SLCs are sometimes co-opted as just another teacher controlled device. I’m not that impressed with how some other teachers are turning it into just another ‘assignment’.

    Thanks for sharing your learning. Our PLN would be impoverished without you.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Royan! You raise an interesting point here. I’m sure that over the years, the way that I run Student Led Conferences will change. I know that this year, I tried to give some direction, but I really wanted the students to have control over this conference too. All of the students chose to show and talk about different things in the classroom, and I think that it was interesting to see this variety and really see the students sharing what’s important to them. I liked having the opportunity to interact with both the students and the parents, but more so, I liked watching as the students interacted with their parents. There were so many wonderful things to see! Sometimes it’s hard to relinquish control, but when we do, amazing things happen!

    Thanks again for really helping me as I embarked on this journey! You have taught me a lot, Royan, and I’m really glad to have you as part of my PLN too!


  3. Great post Aviva. It is wonderful to see the progress that your kids are making and from my interpretations I think that you and your kids are going to grow and thrive on this type of learning.

    It is great to read about another educator, who also has no issues letting students lead their learning and their education. I look forward to more great posts.
    Thanks again Aviva!

    • Thanks for your comment, Shawn, and thanks again for inspiring me to try something new and let my students really “lead” in the classroom. The results of this are amazing! I’m so glad that you shared your “student leadership success stories” with me so that I could really see the value in doing this too.


  4. I have always liked the idea of student led conferences but have yet to try them in my classes. Teaching Middle School, grades 6-8, I have a hard time getting parents to attend. But maybe this would be a good to increase that attendance. Doing the SLC gives students a chance to have some ownership in the classroom. When students have that feeling of ownership they seem to achieve better grades and a better attitude.

    • I completely agree! Our Grade 6-8 students tried them out, and the teachers said that they were very successful. Apparently both the students and teachers really enjoyed them. Good luck! Thanks for the comment!


  5. I love student led conferences. I am in the midst of them with my grade 1 class (I have taught grade 2 and 3 previously). Having students show their work and discuss the feedback they received from their teacher and setting realistic goals gives parents an insight into student-teacher interactions in class. I call the parents ahead of time, when needed, to address any concerns before the conference and keep the conference a positive experience for the student.

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