Term 1, Week 4 (Tuesday 26 Feb) 2019
Student Led Conferences
Next week teachers are hosting student led conferences. You will have received an email already with information about how to book a time. This post is to explain what a student led conference is.
Please note that only 1 conference time is available per child, and that children must be present.
What is a student led conference?
A student led conference is a meeting run by the student for his or her parents, focused on the student's recent learning and current learning goals. During the conference the student presents his or her recent work and explains what he has learnt to do.
How will student led conferences work?
For children in Year 4 - 8
For the first 10 minutes of the conference time you will listen to your child explain "where they are at" and what they need to do next to be successful. There will only be time to discuss a few pieces of work with you (probably some writing and some maths). Students will show you where their recent work sits on a set of maths or writing 'progressions' which will help you to see their progress and how they are achieving compared to expectations.
Students will be spending time in class preparing so that they know how to lead the conference discussion with you. They will have a script to follow, and you will be provided with some questions to ask if your child needs a prompt to tell you more about their learning.
This is the first time we have run our conferences in this manner and we are all learning! Please be patient and supportive of your child. As with anything new, we don't expect everyone to do it perfectly the first time.
Your child's kaitiaki kaiako (guardian teacher) will join the conference for the final 5 minutes. This is so that they can check that you understand and are happy with the goals that have been set and to give you an opportunity to tell the teacher more about your child's strengths and ambitions for the year ahead.
For children in Year 2 - 3
Conferences will last for 10 minutes. Your child's kaitiako kaiako will be present throughout the conference time. Your child will show you an example of their writing and maths work and show you where they are achieving on our Learner Progressions. From this you will also be able to see what your child needs to do next to achieve their goals and/or expectations for their year level.
Your child will have a goal related to our school values, and will discuss with you the things they need to do to achieve it. There will also be time for you to tell the teacher more about your child's interests, after school activities and unique characteristics.
If time runs out and you still have questions about your child's learning, or if you want to discuss social or behavioural concerns, you will be invited to make another time to meet.
What will I need to do to support my child?
Before the conference:
Discuss attendance with estranged partner if necessary- each child will run only one conference so all parties need to attend this.
Book a time and put it in your diary (details notified in school newsletter).
Check the prompts and important things to remember list (below).
On the conference day:
Come - with your child.
Listen - your child will do most of the talking.
S/he will discuss with you the expected achievement levels, his/her progress towards these levels and current learning goals.
Prompt to support your child if necessary (prompt cards will be provided in the classroom).
Enjoy the opportunity to see your child in his/her key learning environment.
Celebrate your child's progress to date.
Remember to focus on your child's effort and progress (as opposed to where they are achieving in comparison to others).
After the conference:
Continue to celebrate your child's successes and support their goals.
If you have concerns that they are not achieving where they should be you can contact their teachers for a meeting to discuss how they are being supported to achieve the best they can.
Important things to remember
Your child will run this conference-not you, not the teacher! Your child must be here.
As part of their regular learning, all students have been putting considerable time and energy into preparing for this. If you cannot attend, please arrange for another significant adult in your child's life to come to the conference.
The conference is about learning-not behaviour or social issues. If you need more information from teachers, or want to discuss behaviour or social issues in detail, you will need to make another time to meet with the teacher.
More about Student Led Conferences
We have found that our previous 20 minute "3 way conference" model is no longer fit for purpose. During a 3 way conference teachers do the majority of the talking, but we believe that the child should be the one to talk about their achievements as this helps them to take responsibility for their learning.
We've shortened the time available as we think that for the majority of students 20 minutes was not necessary. Longer conversations sometimes do need to be had, and we expect to arrange these with you on an as required basis. In setting up other specific meetings to discuss learning, social concerns or behaviour, we can ensure that all teachers who need to be present at the meeting can be. In our previous model it was usually not possible to get all of the teachers who were teaching your child to be at the same conference.
Why have student led conferences?
Research into learning has shown that developing students' ability to talk about their learning and their progress helps them to achieve more.
The research about student led conferences
Professor John Hattie (formerly University of Auckland) has worked for a number of years on finding out the most effective influences on student achievement and identifies student self-reporting as the most significant indicator linked to successful learning.
Two other international researchers, Black & Wiliam say, "the process of students reflecting on their learning, through effective questioning that promotes the articulation of student thinking, is integral to classroom assessment practices that enhance student learning".
Michael Absolum, a leading New Zealand education researcher says, 'If the focus is to be kept on learning, and the ownership of the learning with the child, then the best person to talk about the learning is the learner'... 'Not only is the student the best person to tell their parents what they have learnt, but if we believe that students build their knowledge by communicating what they know, then providing an opportunity for the students to tell their family what they know can significantly assist with that learning.' (2006)
Research also shows parental involvement in schools and classrooms has a positive impact on children's learning (Bastiani; Epstein).
For us, student led conferences are the next logical iteration in helping to strengthen the partnership between the learner, the teacher and the parent. We also believe student led conferences are an important part of how we are helping our students to develop into agentic self-managing learners.
If you are interested in reading more about the research that underpins our decision making around student led conferences these references will get you started.
Absolum, M. (2006) Clarity in the Classroom, Auckland, Hodder.
Bastiani, J. (1988) How Many Parents Did You See Last Night?' A critical look at some of the problems of evaluating home/school practice.' In J. Bastiani (ed.) Parents and teachers 2: From policy to practice. Windsor: nfer Nelson 206-218.
Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998) Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, October, 139-148.
Epstein, J. L. (1986) Parents' reactions to teacher practices of parent involvement. Elementary School Journal, 86, 277-294.
Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.