I am an advocate of student-led conferences. Let me tell you why. A student-led conference not only allows the student to attend what would normally be a traditional parent-teacher conference, but the student is also the director of the conference. I especially appreciate that student-led conferences allow me, the teacher, to hear exactly what the student is comfortable enough to say around his/her parent.
Let me set up a common scenario: A student goes home every day telling his parents that the reason his grades are dropping is because the teacher “does not like” him. In reality, the student’s grade is dropping because he refuses to complete assignments and does not turn in his homework. A conference is set up, but instead of a traditional conference, the conference will be student-led. Perfect! The student and his parents attend the conference and the first thing the student opens up with is “I am doing so well in this class! It is my favorite!”
First of all, the teacher should step in right away and explain to the parents that his grade does not count as “doing well.” Explain that he doesn’t enjoy doing his work and his homework is not usually turned in.
Second, the parents should automatically question why he says his teacher “does not like” him, but claims it is his favorite.
Both the teacher, the student, and the parents are a part of the conference and allowed to verify or negate anything that is said.
Here are helpful tips on when a student-led conference is necessary, what to do during a student-led conference, and how to do it.