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USD 431 to begin student-led parent-teacher conferences
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HOISINGTON — In order to build student engagement, responsibility and leadership, students K-12 at USD 431 will for the first time ever, lead parent-teacher grade conferences next week at the schools.
The students will “explain what they know and what they need to work on,” said Alan Charles, principal of Roosevelt and Lincoln Elementary Schools. The elementary school students will present some student chosen work and some teacher chosen school work.
The conferences will be in the home room of the student with only one teacher, the student and parents present. Students K-2 have a notebook portfolio that will accompany them through their years in the Hoisington school system.
“Some students are excited, some are apprehensive,” said Charles.
The conferences will look a little different at Hoisington Middle School.
“They sent home invitations to parents,” said Pat Reinhart, principal of Hoisington Middle School. The hand written invitations were a new skill for the students, some of whom had never addressed an envelope, as well as other hand written skills.
The middle school students will introduce their parents to their conference teacher, which will also be held in the classroom of the assigned teacher. Included in the student folder is their best work and their least successful work. It will also include the students’ favorite project, class activity or assignment.
The students’ portfolio will also have electronic and paper assignments. Each student was given a goal sheet including strengths, and weaknesses, and needed steps to achieve that goal. A conference goal will also be set that includes work with parents.
“Teacher involvement will be very minimal,” said Reinhardt. The students other teachers have been in contact with the conference teacher in regards to student performance.
At all levels, if parents don’t attend the conference, the kids will be given the opportunity to share their work with an adult.
“I think it will help kid’s self-esteem,” said Reinhardt. “We’re turning over control to the kids.”
In high school, the students will show a PowerPoint presentation to their parents and assigned teacher in the classroom. While the 15-minute individual conferences are conducted, the waiting parents and students will sit outside the classroom.
The students will develop a resume and portfolio, which will benefit juniors and seniors in scholarship applications.
Hoisington High School Principal Meg Wilson said the new conferences will teach 21st century skills. She has been pleased with the relationships the students have built with the conference teacher.
At HHS, the teacher was assigned a certain number of students. They have met six times so far.
“It’s a time for your (student’s) celebration,” said Wilson. The conferences will cover work done over the semester, not behavior and discipline.
After the conferences are completed, the district will assess the success of the program, as well as consider whether to have one traditional conference in the fall. Some other districts in the state have begun student-led conferences, and district leaders visited a couple to see how they worked.
We’ll “make it about successes,” said Wilson. “It will be interesting.”