Thursday, March 16, 2017

16 of 31: His Student-Led Conference

He stands in the front of the room next to a 50 inch television displaying the website that he created for his student-led conference, which includes links to his work. Nervously, he pushes his black plastic frames up his nose. His down coat is zipped almost all the way up, and I know he must be hot, but I think it is his protection. His father is casually seated with his leg crossed and arm slung over the back corner of his chair taking it all in.

The resemblance is uncanny though the father's salt and pepper hair is jet black on his thirteen-year-old son. They must share a barber, for their hair is styled similarly. Parted to the side and slightly messy in back. Dad's eyebrows raise in surprise at his son's astute self-reflection in all the right places. His son discusses his learning and assignments for each of his classes. Dad leans in more closely to learn about the parts of the heart and their functions.

Son shyly looks up from time to time making eye contact with me, the teacher, hiding out in the back of the room. I can't tell if I make him more nervous or if he appreciates another adult in the room in case he has a question or something goes wrong. He is in charge and we don't step in unless invited. My heart swells listening to him brag about his work and goals for the remainder of the year.

Sometimes I bite my tongue to keep from interjecting. I want to brag on him or tease, and occasionally I do. But I remind myself this is not my show.

This is their show and it is beautiful.


  1. This has to be so very special, watching your students give these conferences to their families. Love this: "He is in charge and we don't step in unless invited." What an extraordinary message for your students.

  2. "I remind myself this is not my show". I agree with Maureen that this is such an important message you've taught your students..and maybe you've opened their parents eyes to what their children can do, too.

  3. What an incredible opportunity this kind of conferences provides for your students! I love this idea. And you create such a visible portrait of father and son and classroom, well done.

  4. My student-led-conferences start Monday. I have had the students adding sticky notes on their saved work in their portfolios so that they would remember what to share with their parent. I loved how you said you sat in the back and would not step in unless invited! How long did the student share? Did you share the report card or did they? I teach 6-7 year olds so I had not thought about them sharing the report card at all.

    1. Our 7th graders had 20 minutes for their conferences. Most used the entire time, and some even went a little longer. They were showcasing their science, social studies, math, and ELA work. We have an online gradebook, so they were able to show their parents their up-to-date grades. It did take a lot of prep work and practice, but they were really terrific. I'm sure your 6-7 year olds might need a little more support! I love the Post-it idea! Since we are a Google school, most of our students' work is online, which made it super easy to link to the websites they created.

  5. Love this post! It's so rewarding to see our students take ownership of their learning. Tempting as it may be to jump in, their reflections are what matter the most.