ELIZABETHTOWN — Recently, the cafeteria and school lobby of Elizabethtown Primary School was filled to capacity with parents, grandparents, students and teachers. They were attending the first student-led conference meeting that Elizabethtown Primary School has implemented.
From the cafeteria family members moved on to their child’s classroom for a student-led conference.
For years parent-teacher conferences have been the primary means of parent-teacher communication. But now, many schools are trying something new — student-led conferences that communicate not only how a student’s doing but also why.
At the beginning of the school year, teachers explained to students how they would be setting-up a portfolio binder containing student work and graded work. Students had to keep their portfolio orderly because they would be using it to explain work to their parents.
During this conference, students were proud to show their portfolios to their families and their families were able to see their child’s strengths as well as areas that needed to be improved. The students took great responsibility in explaining why they may have received a high or low grade in something. In addition to samples of the student’s work that were presented, each student also completed various responses which reflected their work habits, behavior, and quality of their work. The students presented these papers to their families for both discussion and feedback.
“From a teacher’s viewpoint, we were able to have a better understanding of each child. Student led conferences require the teacher to sit down with each student and review strengths and weaknesses. This one-on-one time often showed us the students learned more than perhaps we had measured through conventional assessments,” said principal Cheryl White-Smith.
Student-led conferences help the student accept responsibility for their learning and allows parents to understand, from the student’s perspective, what their child is learning in the class.