Last year I was part of a focus group that looked at how we can revamp student conferences. Often conferences are just teachers repeating information that is already available in reports and on assessment feedback. Usually no body looks forward to conferencing (especially students). We want to move towards a focus on learning and with students leading the conferences. Although we are not 100% there year, mostly because our portfolios are brand new, so we are going to start with three way conferences.
Running student-led conferences can feel a little scary if you are used to more traditional ones. I make sure to really prep my students before hand, by doing regular reflection throughout the year, but also by running a mini conference session the week before conferences. I explain the focus of conferencing is on goal setting, not grades, and on learning, not work. I also have a list of questions, including our inquiry questions, AtL reflections, a discussion on the Statement of Inquiry and some other bits and bobs, which students get to look at - then the students highlight the parts which they want to talk about. I also remind them to talk about something useful. It should not just be about celebrating what went well or just looking at summative assessments, but we want the meeting to be useful and productive.
Here is the short presentation I shared with my colleagues at the International School of Stuttgart.
Here is the information I will share with my students right before the conferences.
Here are my question/prompt sheets for Grade 6, Grade 7 and Grade 8 design students.
I also share my teacher prompt list, and tell students that I might ask some questions too!
Guiding Questions / Prompts for Student-Led Conferences
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