Student-led conferences or SLCs are a twist on the traditional parent-teacher conference in which students have the ownership over the conference, and they're the ones that are identifying their strengths and weaknesses or growth areas so that they can take ownership over their own learning.
The first step in SLCs is preparing the students for the conference, and that's by providing some reflection time where they can write down and think about what their areas of strength are and what they're most proud of, what they'd like to celebrate for the semester, and maybe some areas of growth for themselves as a learner and how they might ask their support team like teachers and the family to support them in achieving those goals. It's also good to give them an opportunity to practice with their peers before they have the SLC.
The next step is to set up a schedule and invite the parents to sign up. And whether that's adapting your existing parent-teacher conference or designing a new sign-up, it's important to communicate the times available, the length of the conference, and most importantly, the purpose.
So once the student-led conference starts, it's important to have the students lead the discussion. That might be by asking some open-ended questions like, tell us more, or what did you learn from that experience? How can I help you in reaching your goals? And this allows students time to reflect and to help the students speak the majority of time, so it has them take the ownership over their own learning. Finally, it's important to have reflection time further for the students in which they can think about how it felt to be in charge of their own learning.
A couple of things to watch out for for student-led conferences is to make sure that as teachers, we're seeking to understand and not telling. So avoid the teacher telling mode where we are telling the students and the family about the students' areas of growth or strength. It's more about us listening how the students are feeling about their own areas of strength and growth. Also, it's important to avoid the run-on SLC, and that is when it starts to take longer than you anticipated, making sure that the families know that you can schedule another alternate time, that they can have a longer conference if needed.