Last week, I posted about Collecting, Sharing, and Analyzing Student Data. Part of the “sharing” portion of this is actually more complex (but SUUUPER effective) than you might think. So let’s dive in to Conferencing With Students!
First, raise your hand if any of the following is true for you or your students:
- I haven’t given grades yet on speaking and writing tasks, art projects, music or dance performances, DBQs, or anything where the grade might be subjective.
- It feels wrong to evaluate students on something creative or expressive.
- When I have given grades before, students have asked me “what did you give me a ‘C’ for?!?”
- Some of my students already have low confidence… I’m scared they will just buckle up if I give them a low grade!
- My students are okay with whatever grade they earn, as long as it’s a passing one.
- My students don’t use work time on projects and writing effectively. They just finish as quickly as possible, or dilly-dally.
- My students can say what their grade is, but aren’t clear on how they can improve it, or what their strengths and areas for growth are.
Well, if you are sitting at your computer foolishly raising your hand right now, I have a solution for ya: it’s called student conferences!
Student conferences will help you make progress towards our 2nd Quarter 2 Priority:
Students are invested in their Humanities-content goals because they see their success as critical to their future leadership, and are aware of their progress. This is because Teachers are invested in their end-of-year goals and what they represent for students, and thus measuring and sharing progress towards goals with students and stakeholders.
What can a student conference accomplish?
Student conferences are awesome for resolving all of these challenges. Here is why:
- Conferences build student investment in rigor and purpose. It’s a chance for you to personally motivate and ground
your students in why this content matters to them as individuals.
- Conferences help students understand where they stand. They make grades feel important, something worth reflecting on, rather than something evaluative (gets rid of: “I’m a B- in this class”, low confidence)
- Conferences help build relationships. They celebrate and challenge students individually, genuinely, and academically.
- Conferences establish teacher-student collaboration and mutual learning. It’s a chance to find out how your student thinks, get some feedback, and ask them how YOU can become a better teacher.
Okay, fine. What do I need to make sure I get done in a student conference?
- Build deeper, stronger relationships between student & teacher.
- Make sure your student has 1-2 strategies to solve their own problems.
- Make sure student has clearer vision of path to achieve goals.
What does a student conference look like?
Here is an example (check out the conference that starts at 4:30)… There is a little too much teacher-talk in this one, but it hits most of the objectives outline above!
Do you have any resources to help me structure and plan one?
- Suggested questions for different kinds of conferences (are you confirming a theory about the student? doing a 1-on-1 mini-lesson?)
- Teacher Conference Log (for keeping track of each student and what you learn from your conferences)
- Student Conference Log (so the student can keep track of the goals they are setting, and the steps you chose together)
- Student Assessment Reflections (so the student can come to the conference with some reflections already in mind!)
But Jacob, what about management? How can I possibly do this one-on-one?!?
Fear not! I worked with some teachers last year to come up with some potential solutions and ideas for you.
- Host conferences outside of class-time with students who are already invested in it and would be willing to come in to do better.
- Host conferences outside of class-time with students who struggle/act out in a more public setting. As you do this more and you build stronger relationships and increase investment, you’ll have to do this less!
- Host conferences during independent reading time (or an equivalent)
- Host conferences during writing.creation/practice time
- Host conferences during small groupwork time.
Got more questions about conferencing, or some ideas and resources you want to share? Email me or comment below!