You've made it to my site, now why not gain a deeper understanding of why I do what I do and how I can help YOU do what YOU do! This episode shares exactly that- my why, my what, and my how (full disclosure- I have a hiccup in the very beginning of the episode... let's see if you can catch it!).
As an instructional impact consultant, I focus on partnering with schools to collaborate around high impact strategies that solve the problems that programs and products aren't solving. Yes, that's right, I said it- programs and products are NOT solving the problems that come up again and again in our schools- lack of student engagement, motivation, and ownership; low morale due to overwhelm; an overabundance of resources; minimal gains in student achievement or increasing gaps; and lack of knowledge transfer and application.
But as an attempt at a quick fix, we bandaid the problems we encounter with curriculum programs and technology products. Imagine the time, effort, and money spent on these things that have only minimal lasting and positive impact, or worse, NO positive impact! The solution to these problems does NOT lie in the THINGS we purchase. The solutions lie within the walls of our buildings- in our leaders, our educators, and our students.
But what we know is that taking a step back to analyze the effectiveness of our people can be daunting work. Each individual in an organization comes with their own perspective of problems and solutions, alike. This can make it challenging as a collaborative group to get to the heart of the real challenges at hand, much less the real solution to the challenges. And THIS is where I come in!
I'm able to take a seat in the balcony of your school to analyze the challenges your school faces from all perspectives. I ask the instructional leaders the right questions to get to the real challenge. I have the right conversations with teachers to gauge the school culture and mindset. And I observe students and classrooms with just the right lenses to analyze the current reality. Finally, I strategically and intentionally partner with teams to facilitate collaborative learning around the strategies that will have the highest impact on student achievement and teacher empowerment.
A great deal of what I do revolves around not only facilitating collaboration, but more specifically modeling and explicitly teaching about collaboration. Why? Because I believe that the greatest instructional impact lies in our ability to and our success in collaborating with colleagues and students. I believe that collaboration can be hard, complex, and challenging work- but this kind of work is often the most inspiring and empowering. And I believe that products and programs DO NOT empower and inspire.... PEOPLE empower and inspire.
It is through successful collaboration that our continual problems can be solved. And I would love nothing more than to partner with you and your school to solve the problems that products and programs aren't solving!
Take a Load Off!
Obviously it is time consuming to filter through student work to find what you think shows students strengths and areas needing improvement. It is even more time consuming to brainstorm and note all the things you plan to bring up at each conference. While you should still have a few ideas of important things you'd like to be addressed as a teacher, why not put some of this workload on the students? It is their work, their grades, and their behavior being discussed. Allowing students to lead their own conferences requires them to reflect on their grades and the work samples that reflect those grades. Chances are that the student will end up noticing and bringing up most, if not all, the significant points you had planned to discuss anyway. This eliminates the need for teachers to spend excessive amounts of time preparing for conferences that only last about 15 minutes each.
Hold Students Accountable
What better way to hold students accountable for their growth and success as learners than to put them in charge of their own conference? Last year was the first year I implemented Student-Led Conferences. Before trying it out, I had always led parent conferences on my own without the child present. The problem is that the child never really knew exactly what the parent and I discussed. Where is the accountability in that? The parent cannot be held solely responsible for the student's improvement. In addition, how are students to feel valued and respected as a learner if they cannot share about themselves in a reflective and honest way? After trying out this new method, I found that students took ownership of their learning, were more aware of their academic strengths and weaknesses, and became more thoughtful about their actions and attitudes in school.
Build Stronger Relationships
As aforementioned, students deserve the opportunity to feel valued and respected as learners in the classroom. Student-led conferences can bring about a level of maturity and responsibility that might not be noticed on a day to day basis.
How to Implement Student-Led Conferences
Leave your thoughts below!
Have you tried student-led conferences? Are there other things you've tried that you'd like to share? Let us know!
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- Collaborative Leader and Culture Changer!