Section 6: Student-Led Conferences

Conceptual Overview

Presentation Audio Transcript

Text-Based Reflection

List the reasons why student-led conferences would benefit the students in your school.
Read the goals of the student-led conference system at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS).
Reconsider your list. Is there anything you would add or remove?

Student Experience

Student-led conferences come in a variety of forms but are based in similar core ideas.
Watch the following three examples of student-led conferences:

Answer the following question:

  • What did you see in the students that demonstrated the power of student-led conferences?

Teacher Experience

Student-led conferences are most effective as part of a comprehensive advisory/consulting system.
Read Poland Region High School's course description of their four-year Round Table Program.
Answer the following questions:

  • How do the elements of student-led conferences fit within and support the goals of the Round Table program, and vice versa?
  • How would you imagine such a program functioning in your school?
  • What questions do you still have about student-led conferences?

Case Study Analysis

Read the case study below:

Reflection Middle School has recently decided to institute two student-led conferences per year. Principal Leif Longlurning is excited about this initiative because he believes the conferences will help the school achieve its vision for graduates, which is that, "every student is college- and career-ready, and prepared to become a compassionate, thoughtful, and contributing global citizen". Since the student-led conferences will be such an important milestone in students' growth, Principal Longlurning wants teachers to grade students’ performance during the conferences. A group of seventh grade teachers is piloting a rubric to assess students’ performance during the conferences. However, some teachers have expressed concern that attaching a grade to the conference will diminish students’ ability to be reflective and take risks and may fail to account for student growth.

Answer the following questions:

  • How would you advise Principal Longlurning to proceed?
  • How will your advice help the school achieve its vision for graduates?

Supplemental Resources

Explore the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education's "4 Shifts for Student-Led Conferences in a Proficiency-Based Environment", "S is for Student-Led Conferences", and "The Parent’s Role in a Student-Led Conference" for a series of videos and actionable tips.
Read Edutopia's "Student-Led Conferences: Resources for Educators" for a compilation of tips and examples.
Watch Edutopia's "Student-Led Conferences: Empowerment and Ownership" for advice from a Chicago school.
Read Getting Smart's "Supporting Student Agency Through Student Led Conferences" for examples from a San Diego school.
Read Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) Faculty Guide for student-led conferences as an example of how one school organized their system.

Evidence of Learning

Be sure to record your answers to the above questions in the Evidence of Learning Tool.

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