Parents enjoy students giving their evaluation of their performance.
Celia McDerment smiled as she pulled out a story she wrote about riding her bike into a bottle-shaped trash can to show her mom, Brooke.
Brooke McDerment listened carefully as Celia, a third grader at William H. Bashaw Elementary School, talked about her class assignment that also included a picture she drew.
The two then discussed Celia’s other work in math and science before their Oct. 17 student-led conference came to an end.
Rather than having the typical parent-teacher conferences, four teachers at Bashaw Elementary — including Celia McDerment’s teacher, Melissa Mayoral — decided to have their students take the lead during the conferences with their parents.
“They are learning to take responsibility of their actions and their choices in their academic work,” said Samantha Fruchey, a third grade teacher at Bashaw. “For the parents, I think it is a benefit for them to see what their child is getting out of the class. I always leave it open to them, too. If they want more information or have more questions, they can always contact me and have a conference.”
During the conferences, students shared a self-assessment in which they reflected on their behavior in class, such as how well they listen to directions and how well they respect others.
“A lot of kids were very honest, more brutally honest than I would have rated them,” Fruchey said.
Miriam Lopez, the mother of third grader Camila Marquez, said she felt the self-assessment was helpful not only for her daughter to reflect on how she’s doing in class but also for her to see what they need to work on at home.
Students also picked out what they believed to be their best work in math, science and writing during the first quarter.
In reviewing their work, Mayoral said students are able to see what they need to work on as well as how they have progressed.
Bruce Livingston, father of third grader Mylie Livingston, said listening to his daughter explain her different assignments showed she’s paying attention and knows what’s going on in class.
Third grade teacher Danielle Acosta said student-led conferences help students take ownership of their work, boost their self-confidence and give them a sense of accomplishment.
Celia McDerment said the conferences allowed her to share what she thinks about the class and why she likes the pieces she chose as her best work so far.
“I’m impressed by how much she showed me about what she does in the classroom and also how enthusiastic she is,” Brooke McDerment said. “Clearly, she has enjoyed being able to go subject by subject and show me her notebook and her favorite projects.”
Katie Pippins, a fourth grade teacher in her second year of holding student-led conferences at Bashaw, said this style of conference feels more productive and meaningful because it involves the student.
Jessica and Stephen Ulmer, the parents of third grader Gabriella Ulmer, liked the student-led conferences because they were more personable.
“We learned a lot more seeing it come from her perspective rather than the teacher’s,” Stephen Ulmer. “I hope it continues.”
When doing student-led conferences in the past, all four teachers said they saw students work harder to achieve the goals they set for themselves before the next conference with their parents, which is at the end of the third quarter.