Back to school is here for most teachers and kids now. Teachers in some places have already been in class for a month while others are about to return. It's a time to think about many things, but one of the ones we sometimes put on the back burner is student led conferences.
Planning now will make these meetings easier to prep for and they can also guide some of your teaching as you think about what kinds of assessments, projects, and curriculum content you might want to share.
From the first few days or weeks, you can be collecting information and learning about your students so you can best support them when it's time for conferences. Here are a few ideas to try right now.
Getting to know your students
Give your kids a chance to share things about themselves that will help you to better connect with them. Ask about their interests, hobbies, and preferences. Don't forget to give them a chance to also tell you about things that might be difficult or worrisome for them. Use the information gathered to create relationships and to inform your instruction based on interests and needs.
You could also try doing interest hearts. Fill in each space with an interest or passion. I usually do 2 copies - one for writing, and one for illustrations. Sometimes drawing is easier for younger children. These can be used as writing ideas for the first few weeks as well.
Communicating with parents
Set up ways to communicate with parents such as newsletters, email updates, or a classroom website. Share important information about the curriculum, classroom expectations, and upcoming events to keep them informed and involved. Some of this can be done at a Meet the Teacher Night.
During the first week of school, I often send home the following Getting Acquainted form so that I can get an idea about my student from the parents' perspective. It is interesting to see how kids can be very different in the home or school environment. This information form helps to see more of the whole child.
Sometimes parents want to help, but they aren't sure how best to do so. Home reading is an important part of the home/school connection, so I send home this letter so that parents have some support as they try to help their children with reading. This can be found in my Back To School Start Up Forms.
Having some goals will give kids some focus as they move forward. I like to start with celebrating what they can already do and then move to ways they can continue to improve or grow. Provide goal setting worksheets or templates for students to set personal or academic goals for the year. Encourage them to think about what they want to achieve and how they can work toward their goals.
Collect samples of work that show what your students are able to do at the beginning of the year as well as samples in the following weeks so that you can share how they have progressed. Formative assessment materials could also be used.
Don't forget to note the non-academic growth as well. Confidence, working with others, improved self esteem, and participation are a few areas to consider.
Get your students to help with this information collection. Let them know why you are collecting it and how they can help with the selections. This will help them to take ownership of their work and also prepare them to share their material with their parents when the time comes.
Next time I will share more about the actual student led conferences and why they are so beneficial.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.