The Student-led Conference is an initiative of the Lower School that emphasizes responsibility for learning, independence, presentation and relationships. The project was launched in the 2009-2010 year when teachers shifted to trimester grading periods.
Teachers help students organize materials for the review period which includes a presentation of their report card and — depending on the teacher — samples of work completed, readings of stories written, letters to parents, personal assessments of strengths and weaknesses and classroom displays. Teachers prepare a checklist of what their students must cover with their parents but students are expected to organize their materials and practice their presentations.
The student-led conference puts the ownership on the child. The child becomes more accountable. The conference promotes leadership and communication between the child and the parents. To have children sit down with their parents and say, ‘This is what I couldn’t do. This is what I can do now.’ Encourages self-reflection skills which will help children as they grow older.
From the students’s point of view, the conference seem to have made an impression on the importance of having organizational and presentation skills. “It was kind of like getting ready when you’re older and you’re in meetings a lot,” says former second grader Sam Luttmer. Classmate Makayla Fisher said a lot of work went into preparing materials that showed parents how much work had improved, and she hopes that will pay off eventually. “You have to be prepared,” she says. “You don’t know what will happen in the future. You might be president and have to take meetings and oaths and stuff.”