student-led conferences: letting go

this is long, but there are a few freebies if you stick with it!
and some good info too!
When my freshman was in fifth grade, he attended a "Baldridge" school. Data all over the place. And he led mom and dad through two conferences that year. I was beyond impressed! So I immediately came back and started planning how I was going to change everything I do with data and parent conferences. (do all teacher moms do this...right?)
I'll apologize in advance if any parents are reading this, but I do not like one on one parent conferences. Not that I have ever had a terrible experience. I just feel uncomfortable. Like I'm on the spot. Almost as uncomfortable as I feel at open house talking to a room of eager parents awaiting to hear how I will stun them all with my expertise and amazingness. almost
Well, I won my admin over with the idea of data notebooking. And my team over with student-led conferences! Honestly, I have done a t-totally terrible job keeping up this year, but that's a different story!
I held my first ever student-led conferences 4 years ago when I began teaching second grade. I trusted that with a good sense of self and data to back it up (and a checklist, too) that my 7 year olds could lead their parents through their data!
And was I right!
Honestly, the biggest hurdle I see is that teachers cannot let go. just let it go.
I teach with the end in mind. I WANT my kiddos to be independent. I want them to lead. It means I have less to do!
A lot of teachers say that, but you have to mean it. You have to foster independence. you have to allow them to be leaders. you have to let it go.
and I'm a little lazy. so there's that

now to why you probably clicked on this post...I want to share how one of my teammates and I run our student-led conferences. Because we really feel like it works!
you don't need a data folder to do this! It's nice, but not required! In fact, I did not use one the first year! But if you are in the market for one-here's what we use! straightforward and printer friendly-cause this using a lot of copies in the beginning of the year!

For about 2 days before the parents join us, we rehearse. We practice how to talk to our parents about ourselves like we are little people. Little people who know how we perform in school and are honest! Because data don't lie!
On the day of conferences we set up our desk before we leave school that afternoon. I have drop in conferences from 3-6pm-one day only. It accommodates most families, as well as my own. Unlike the old days, I refuse to stay til dawn at school! So I expect parents to work with me when it comes to conference times. I send a note home a month ahead of time. and another one in some form or another, each week leading up to the conference date!

so this is how we leave or desk the day of conferences.
1. current project-this shows the parents we do actually work in class
2. parent info-this is a booklet I made that includes the student script or checklist, a data cheatsheet to explain all the numbers they will see (freebie at the bottom), a snapshot of learning (from Melissa's pack), and a parent conference reflection (optional for parents to return)
3. data-graphs in red folder, math test booklet, and guided reading notebook
4. family activity-the fun part. This is a student reflection sheet that I require before they leave so I know they talked through it with their parent. 

Now I must add a plug here for Melissa! She did not pay me say this! Yes, the pack is $8 may that seem like a lot to you, especially when you search and see other packs for a third of the price. You get what you pay for with this girl! this packet is chock full! tons of pictures, forms, options galore! in an editable powerpoint. A lot of these ideas I would never have thought of! 
and here's a freebie for you!
I created this data cheatsheet for parents and I think it was super helpful. Our school uses
It's hard for us, let alone parents, to remember what all these numbers represent! 
I am sharing the powerpoint so you can adjust as needed. 
Most of the fonts are from Cara Carroll (all these are from Vol.3), the other two used in the smaller titles are Amatic and Fishfingers

Do you have more questions? I'd love to hear how you hold conferences!


  1. Oh my Rachel- your post made me so happy! Thanks so much for blogging about student led conferences and giving me a shout out!

  2. My school is starting student led conferences this year. I have never done them before. It was so great to read about how you do them!!

    Luck's Little Learners

  3. Great post! I just might try "letting go" and see what happens. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  4. I have found such great success with these as well! Really gets the parents and students excited about their learning and progress!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  5. Student led conferences are one of my goals for next year! Thanks for giving me a jump start in the right direction! :)


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