This is the fifth part of my series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I’m using this series to discuss small ways to bring personalized learning into our standardized classrooms. The first week, we discussed An Easy Way to Personalize Learning with Student Choice. Then we discussed Assessment and Personalized Learning in a Standardized Classroom. Week 3 was about unit design and Creating Transparent Goals for Personalized Learning. In Week 4, we discussed Personalized Learning with a Project Path. This week, we’re going to talk about the ever-important student conference.
The student-teacher conference is vital to any personalized learning environment.The main benefit of personalized learning is student ownership. Students achieve this ownership through reflection and goal-setting. A great way to do this is by sitting down with students individually and having a conference.
The Student-Teacher Conference Has Three Main Benefits:
1. It encourages student ownership of learning.
Students will let go of the notion that teachers “give” them a grade by examining the relationship
between their goals, the actions they take to achieve their goals, and the grade they are earning.
2. It enables goal-setting and progress monitoring.
Students mindfully set goals and take steps to achieve them. If a student is slipping, the conference provides the students with actionable steps to self-correct before it is too late.
3. It fosters a positive student-teacher relationship.
In having individual conferences, students lose that “invisible comfort zone,” in which they are passive receptacles of information. These conversations build relationships.
A Practical Plan for Implementing the Student-Teacher Conference:
Materials you will need:
1. Each student should have a Conference Journal. To stay organized, I make mine digital.
2. A Conference Reflection Form. Google Forms work great for this.
My email list is getting the journal and form I’m using as an example this week, but it is simple to create one to suit your needs.
At the beginning of the course, sit down with each student and have them reflect on goals for the course. Guide them through devising a plan for achieving their goals. They should reflect on this in their journal.
During the next conference, students will fill out a slide reflecting on their progress so far. I would have one conference at the end of each unit to provide reflection and motivation for improvement in the next unit. A student workday is an ideal time to do this. I generally either select a day when students are in stations or working on individual learning paths.
After each conference, students should also fill out the form. The first time they fill it out, send the responses to a spreadsheet. You will use this spreadsheet to track student progress throughout the year.
Alphabetize the “Last Name” category so that each of the students’ responses throughout the year are grouped together.
Hyperlink the students’ journals to their first form response for easy access. If you assign the journals in Google Classroom, each student can automatically get a copy and you can grab each individual link from your Classroom Folder.
At the end of the year, have one final conference in which students reflect on their performance and consider the next school year.
Student-teacher conferences are vital for a personalized learning environment. They encourage student ownership and reflection. They also help build student-teacher relationships.
How do you conduct student-teacher conferences? Leave a comment and let me know. And don’t forget to check back in next week for more Baby Steps to Personalized Learning.
And be sure to check out the entire series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning.