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Student-Led Conferences: Resources for Educators

Ashley Cronin

Digital Resource Curator
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Student sharing her work with a teacher and a parent

In many schools, educators are transforming teacher-led parent-teacher conferences in favor of student-led meeting formats that engage students in the process. These conferences can provide powerful opportunities for students to advocate for their own learning.

How Do Student-Led Conferences (SLCs) Work?

Though the format may vary, these conferences differ from traditional conferences in that they place students at the helm of teacher-supported discussions with parents about student progress and learning. SLCs also often present opportunities for students to prepare, reflect on, and discuss evidence of their learning and growth by way of student portfolios.

Schools that implement student-led conferences report that they:

  • Encourage students to take responsibility and ownership for their learning by involving them in the goal-setting and assessment process.
  • Engage families in richer, more transparent conversations about student progress.

To better visualize what these meetings might look like in various grade levels, watch these video highlights from Expeditionary Learning featuring a student-led kindergarten meeting at Delaware Ridge Elementary School in Kansas City, Kansas, and a student-led middle school meeting and student-led high school meeting at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) in New York City.

Whether you already hold student-led conferences or want to make a change, this list of practical resources includes examples, guides, and specific tools that will help you prepare for or improve these meetings:

Useful Tips, Guides, Checklists, and Printables

Downloads and Examples From Schools That Work

Student-Led Meetings: Empowering Student Voice

Students at University Park Campus School in Worcester, Massachussets, grow into their power and potential through student-led meetings. Watch footage from these meetings, hear insights from educators, and then explore the following school tools:

Student-Led Conferences: Empowerment and Ownership

At Wildwood IB World Magnet School in Chicago, Illinois, student-led conferences create opportunities for reflection, engagement, and agency. Find out how educators at Wildwood make this student ownership a reality and engage parents in conversations with students about their learning. Then check out a few of the tools they use to scaffold the process:

More Resources From Edutopia and the Web

Have you implemented student-led conferences at your school? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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4schoolinsight's picture

I served as the chairperson for the planning and implementation of student-led conferencing for the 12 elementary schools in our district. It was a paradigm shift in how parents and teachers viewed conferences. The focus needs to be on how student-led conferences benefit students. Overall, parents and teachers found them to be beneficial. I remain a strong proponent for this approach to conferencing.

Sheldon S | The Knowledge Roundtable's picture
Sheldon S | The Knowledge Roundtable
Enthusiastic teacher, writer, and learner

In our district, student led conferences have resulted in huge boosts in family attendance and student ownership. The conversations are so much more meaningful because of the fact that they are prepared and driven by the students themselves - such a meaningful difference given the fact that the students are usually left out of traditional parent-teacher conference meetings altogether.

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