Brian got me thinking a lot more on conferences. I have been teaching now four years with three different districts (yikes, that doesn't sound that bad, does it?). My first year at South Kitsap we had that big room where we sat and waited for the parents to come to us. Bremerton introduced me to student-led conferences, which I thought was going to fall flat. Kids running the show? No way. They proved me wrong. I have written about it before. This year I am back to being in a big room at a table for eight straight hours, just waiting for the wonderful parents to come in.
Student-led conferences worked. They were excellent.
First of all, they made the students accountable for their own learning. I actually sat back and watched, for the most part, as the kids told their parents, via a portfolio set up during homeroom, what they were learning in their classes. They had work to showcase that they were proud of. They would pretty much reiterate how important classes were and what they were learning. It was phenomenal. And I sat back and got to watch the magic. Parents were impressed and students gained confidence and respect.
Second of all, as I am sitting here and talked to maybe 15 sets of parents over two days and ten hours, I think that the turnout is horrible. The student-led conferences, led by a homeroom teacher, were able to schedule a conference time for their parents. They HAD to schedule a time. They had to or it had to be made up. The turnout was well over 95%. That works. That is what you want. That's parent involvement.
Now that I have run the gamut of these conferences, even going back and forth, I know that student-led conferences are the way to go. Let's put the education of the students back into their own hands.