Communicating Learning: Student-Led Conferences at Home: Special Edition Newsletter April 25, 2021

The weeks fly by so quickly and here it is time again for our absolutely-best-ever-most-favourite day of the school year, Student-Led Conferences!  We’re reblogging this post (with a twist) from April 2019 (the last time we held Student-Led Conferences in school) with our best suggestions for having a successful Student-Led Conference at Home with your Kindergarten child. 

First, some background information about Student-Led Conferences:

Christy and I have been holding Student-Led Conferences (SLC) for many years; in fact, my first Student-Led Conference as a teacher was here in West Vancouver at Chartwell Elementary School in 1990 when I was teaching Grade 3.  We’ve gradually refined our practises to make it perfect for Kindergarten but the core tenets of the Conferences has always stayed the same:  to provide an opportunity for students to communicate learning to their parents in a meaningful format; self-reflection for students to identify their personal accomplishments, strengths and areas for improvement; give parents an insight into how their children learn; and an inside look at student work, their classroom and school.

We’ve written extensively about Student-Led Conferences at theselfregulatedteacher.com.  You can use the search tool on our website to find our posts.  You can also read about Student Led Conferences in my Grade 3 classroom during my Chartwell days in Evaluating Literacy:  A Perspective for Change (1991) by Robert J. Anthony, Terry D. Johnson, Norma I. Mickelson and Alison Preece.

Our Kindergarten Student-Led Conferences are a twist on the traditional Student-Led Conference.  In the years we were teaching Grades 1-4, each student would welcome their parents to his or desk, where a curated selection of work would be waiting in a file.  A letter of welcome for parents, plus a class created agenda, provide structure for the Conference time.

In Kindergarten, however, we use a Centre approach, in much the same way we use Centres during the morning Activity Time, Math Centres, or our focus afternoon Centre Time.  Parents can expect to see an Alphabet Centre, Math Centre with tasks and participate in the daily Calendar activities as part of our Student-Led Conferences.  

Kindergarten is a special grade, the first formal schooling for most children, the first Student-Led Conference for most parents, and it’s important for us to set the tone and expectations for how the Conferences are conducted because you’ll be enjoying them for the next eight years while at Ridgeview.  As one of two informal Communicating Learning opportunities, we want this to be a positive and successful experience for you and your child.  The format will be different as you move through the grades, but its value is always the same:  priceless.  

This year, due to the restrictions of Covid-19, we’ve been planning and thinking over the past two months about how to bring the same energy and excitement to Student-Led Conferences at home.  Using the same Owl envelopes the children have been using to take home their special artwork once a month, we’re putting them to good use by packaging everything your child needs for their conference.  Inside your child’s envelope you will find an introductory letter from us, an agenda for the conference with some paperwork attached, and then the children’s schoolwork to be enjoyed at your leisure.  We’ve included some artwork in an Art Gallery folder.

We have practised with the children how to conduct their conference; remember, this is a student led conference, so your child is in charge of leading the conference which is the same as we would have done at school.  Your role is to provide support, encouragement, praise and notice improvements in their schoolwork, skills and confidence over the past year.

Please note:  At the end of the conference, your child may keep all of their schoolwork at home.

-we will send home the Y and Z alphabet sheets when they are completed and marked for you to add to the Alphabet Book.  Then the Alphabet Book is complete, from A-Z.

-we need you and your child to fill out the Two Stars and a Wish Self-Reflection sheet and return it and the Owl envelope to school

Here’s our Top 10 tips for a successful Student-Led Conference at Home:

  1. Please schedule your child’s Student-Led Conference into your day.  Set aside 20-25 minutes to be with your child.
  2. This goes without saying, but our cell phones are a distraction so please put all electronic devices away for the duration of your special time together. Your children are very, very excited to be the centre of your attention and share their learning with you.
  3. Keep your child’s Owl envelope with the Student-Led Conference work in a safe place until you sit down with your child.  We will be sending them home on Wednesday.
  4. Arrange for care for your other children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, so you can focus on your Kindergarten child.
  5. Give praise and specific, positive comments to your child eg., “I like how you used a variety of colours in your drawing;” recognise that your child might find some tasks difficult so encourage them to keep trying their best.
  6. Be mindful of your Conference duration.  If your child wants to review every page and activity with you, please feel free to divide the conference package over the two afternoons (there are 24 pages in the Alphabet Book alone).
  7.  Let your child be the leader.  They can choose the order in which they wish to share their work.  You do not need to follow the order of the activities, just ensure you have completed each one by the end of the conference.
  8. After each activity is completed, please have your child place a sticker beside it on the line.
  9. You may notice some work is incomplete due to absence.  Your child is free to finish any missed activities at home.  There is no need to return them to school.  
  10.  Please return your child’s Owl envelope and the purple Two Stars and a Wish Self-Reflection sheet, completed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s