An Early Years teacher explains the process of student-led conferences she uses in her classroom.
“Making the PYP happen (2009) describes on page 52 the role of the student in student-led conferences as being ‘responsible for leading the conference and also taking responsibility for their learning by sharing the process with their parents’. In our class we spend a lot of time reflecting on learning, sharing learning amongst students and teachers, as well as encouraging children to share their portfolios regularly with their families. Despite all of this, the prospect of student-led conferences with four- and five-year-olds can be a daunting one! Here I will briefly explain the process we use we with our students and how we do our best to make this day a success.
At our school, student-led conferences take place close to the end of the academic year. School closes for the day and each family signs up for a time slot. We set out five stations, all of which reflect some of the learning which has taken place this year in our class. We ensure that there is a link to one of our units of inquiry (UoI), but equally we make sure that the stations reflect learning in the widest possible context and reflects the interests of the children as well as the UoIs. For this reason, we encourage families to explore the classroom with children showing their parents their favourite centres, art work and documentation on the walls.
Before the day we familiarize children with the stations and remind them of the learning they experienced in class. Where available, we share photos and videos of children engaged in the learning engagements the first time round. Each station has an explanation for parents of the context in which the children have previously experienced this learning in class and directions of what to do at the station. We also add some suggested open-ended questions to stimulate discussion.
This year we chose the following stations:
Our portfolios show each child’s learning journey across the year. They are a collection of learning stories, photographs, self-chosen pieces and transcripts of class discussions. We set out smiley faces and speech bubbles for the parents to glue directly in to the portfolio if they wish, this gives them the opportunity to reflect on the portfolio but does not require a written reflection if parents do not feel comfortable doing so.
At the end of the session each parent fills in a reflection telling us what they enjoyed and most importantly, what they have learned about their child’s learning. Each child also fills out a reflection with space for a drawing of their favourite part of the day plus space for comments for parenst to scribe if they wish. Each family returns these to us before they leave.”
The original article can be found in Kate’s blog here.
Kate is a workshop leader and has worked with children aged 3 – 5 for 10 years both in the UK and Internationally. She blogs at playbasedinquiry.blogspot.com with her co-teacher Shelby Brown.