I kinda like it. It’s nice to have some responsibility. It’s good to show my parents my perspective.
Leading a conference sounds like an ambitious undertaking. The leader has the responsibility for making sure that all attendees learn and all participate appropriately. We tend to think of conference leaders as accomplished.
In our middle school, the same conference responsibilities apply, and the conference leaders are accomplished. They are also in grades 6, 7 and 8.
Today our students finished preparing for their student-led conferences. The number of attendees at each conference will be relatively small: the student, the advisor, and some family members. The responsibility,though, is large– in addition to taking care of attendees, our students have the additional twist of being the very subject of the conference they each have organized!
It’s hard– matching up my agenda with looking back at my year’s school work.
If you have ever done self-reflection, you will understand why our conference preparation is spread over most of the year, with an intense period of setting an agenda, meeting with advisors, and rehearsing the conference, in the last weeks before the conference date. Students set goals and work toward them starting in the fall. January reports bring a second flush of self-assessment and revised goal setting. When April comes, students look back at all feedback, reports, and goals, and synthesize what all this information indicated about them as a learner.
I’m excited to do it again because it went well the last time.
Skillful advisors lead students through the reflection process, beginning with an emphasis on strengths. Successful adults have learned how to harness their strengths to lead to accomplishments. Schools can sometimes focus too much on areas of challenge though.Even with the best of intentions, focus on only where things need to be better can be discouraging, and leaving strengths out of the picture is rather wasteful. With the right strategy, those strengths can be channelled to support areas of challenge.
“I’m a little nervous, because I know my parents….”
When the conference participants are finally brought together on the big day, the student does most of the talking. Students always save room for parent input near the end, as each family and the advisor sets one of the goals together, in the conference.
Prep went faster this year than other years.Setting goals was good. I had lots of info and the reports were easy to read.
Students who have been at PDS for several years, become better and better at preparing for the conference. This is an excellent sign. It indicates that the process begins to become internalized– a necessary part of adulthood: self-reflection that includes strengths and challenges, and clear sighted goals for the next step.
Thank you to the students who let me interrupt their musings to be interviewed for this post.