Student Involved Conferences-Leadership & Partnership #BCSLearns

With student involved conferences coming up this week, you may recall my post last fall on Parent Conferences where I shared some helpful reminders for productively positive conversations with parents. For our spring conferences, I thought I’d share an article from ASCD, Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences, that provides some great reminders as we plan to build on our productive partnerships with parents in support of the students we serve.  In the article, Margaret Wilson from Responsive Classroom reminds us to:

  • Offer conversation starters. “What’s going well for Sam in school this year?”
  • Invite parents to share their thoughts. They’re the experts.
  • Highlight the positives. This BCS Moral Compass and be gratituderelentless gratitude!
  • Address just one or two concerns.
  • Let parents know if you need thinking time.

She also reminds, and we know this all to well, to plan ahead for any surprises.  Whether it focuses on their own or another student’s behavior, something unrelated to the focus of the conference or an academic surprise, Wilson shares some key reminders for us in responding to any surprises:

  • Steer the conversation back to positives when conversation gets off topic.
  • Focus on the child.
  • Listen with empathy.
  • Offer to get help.

Above all listen…Empathically ListenEnjoy this time together with your students and parents and, with their participation, be sure they guide their parents down to see their c0-curricular teachers who are partners in their learning as well.

Finally, to get you in the mood, use the “expertise” in the video below from our Friends helping us with communication and the importance of being careful with both our verbal and non-verbal cues.  Enjoy!

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8 thoughts on “Student Involved Conferences-Leadership & Partnership #BCSLearns

  1. Kim

    Student-Led Conferences are my favorite because I love the opportunity for self-reflection and for young kids to lead a 20+ minute presentation of their portfolios. I ran across this article over spring break, and want to consider some of these ways to increase the ownership even more, like students sending an email/snail mail letter to invite their parents to the sign up sheet.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/04/when-students-lead-parent-teacher-conferences/477069/

    Reply
    1. bcscruz

      “Tips for New Teachers: Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences” offers some valuable tips. If I had to rank order the tips, I would have to say that Highlighting the Positive ranks as one of the most important tips. At the start of my teaching career, my mentor gave me a bit of advise that has never failed me . . . Use conferences as an opportunity to celebrate a child’s successes. Student-led conferences go a step beyond this; they give children the opportunity to recognize their accomplishments. Even my students who struggle can find genuine successes. I love that student-led conferences reinforce to my students the successes that they have in my class. In addition, they are also realistic in the sense that students need to reflect on areas they would like improve (and ways to improve those areas). I would also highly rank Addressing Just One or Two Concerns.

      Reply
      1. Mandy H.

        Mary, I completely agree with you. I love that your mentor shared the advise ” Use conferences as an opportunity to celebrate a child’s successes”. I love student-led conferences because it gives me an opportunity to brag about my students. I also love watching my students smile when they hear all of the great things that they are doing. It is a great way to keep them going strong for the rest of the year.

      2. Kim

        Mary, you captured so eloquently the most important parts of conferences: be positive and address one or two opportunities for growth. Right along with your mentor’s wise advice, Dale told me my first year that we ALWAYS have to “sandwich” EVERY conversation and email with parents about kids: something positive, something to work on, something positive. Doing exactly what both of our mentors told us to do are such powerful tools to build connections with parents, and to remind ourselves also of student successes, no matter what message we might need to “sandwich” in the middle.

        Mandy, it’s so hard for me too to reserve enough time in my conference agenda to truly give parents enough time for their thoughts and questions. We’re setting important goals to improve next year’s conferences.

    2. bcscruz

      Interesting article. As your article mentions, during student-led conferences students have be honest with themselves by owning up to how they have performed. Being able to identify what’s contributing to their successes and failures helps them truly take ownership. What better way to help a child become vested in their education. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Reply
  2. bcscruz

    “Tips for New Teachers: Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences” offers some valuable tips. If I had to rank order the tips, I would have to say that Highlighting the Positive ranks as one of the most important tips. At the start of my teaching career, my mentor gave me a bit of advise that has never failed me . . . Use conferences as an opportunity to celebrate a child’s successes. Student-led conferences go a step beyond this; they give children the opportunity to recognize their accomplishments. Even my students who struggle can find genuine successes. I love that student-led conferences reinforce to my students the successes that they have in my class. In addition, they are also realistic in the sense that students need to reflect on areas they would like improve (and ways to improve those areas). I would also highly rank Addressing Just One or Two Concerns.

    Reply
  3. Mandy H.

    This was a great reminder that we need to keep student-led conferences positive. Students and parents are there to celebrate and it is important that teachers focus on student success.
    I also appreciated the reminder to “Invite parents to share their thoughts. They’re the experts.” I am guilty of sometimes talking too much and I now wonder if I am not giving parents the opportunity to share. I will be adding this question to my conference agenda.

    Reply

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