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When students guide the parent-teacher conference, they take ownership of their learning. Lakeview Elementary fifth-grade teacher Kim Crawford experienced it first hand with her own child at a different district. “I thought it was very unique and very interesting that my child was leading the conference. I definitely thought our students at Lakeview could do it,” said Crawford.
Fast forward to a professional teacher conference; another member of the Lakeview fifth-grade team attended a session about student-led conferences and brought all the information back to Lakeview. That’s when the ball started rolling and Crawford, who is the fifth grade team leader, began developing a plan. “Our team had a meeting every week in the fall and as a team we talked about what we wanted in our binders.” The first student-led conference took place in October and during a five hour window, 45 fifth graders had their binders prepared and met with their parents about their progress in the classroom. “We had more parents show up to this, than if it were a regular parent-teacher conference,” said Crawford. “We have students taking ownership of their learning and now we have parents who are saying, how can we support you in achieving your goal?”
During Monday night’s Board of Trustees meeting, Lakeview Elementary was one of two spotlight campuses. Three fifth-grade students talked about how student-led conferences have helped them. “In our binders, we had to write out our behavior and our progress in each subject. We had to outline our objectives to help us set future goals for growth and improvement in different subject areas,” said fifth grader Harrison Miller.
"We had pieces of paper in our binder where we wrote down writing goals. These goals will help us improve our writing throughout the year. We also included test analysis information to help us see our progress and improve where we need to improve," said fifth grader Mohammed Ahmed.
“I like the student-led conferences because we get to show our parents our progress and growth in the class. I enjoyed this because if your parents have a question, you are able to answer it for them. Our teachers were nearby just in case. My parents thought this was unique,” said Calah Garcia, another Lakeview fifth grader.
“I think this is an incredible opportunity for our students,” said Daniel Gallagher, superintendent. “This is more than a conference. For students, this will have the biggest impact on their education by making their learning more meaningful and relevant. It helps them understand how important it is to set a goal and achieve it.”
Since the October student-led conferences, Crawford and her team area planning the second one for the spring. “It will be more about students celebrating tremendous growth and progress with their parents,” said Crawford. “We have some students who struggled in certain subject areas at the beginning of the school year. During their student-led conference planning, they set goals and achieved them and have grown a whole grade level. When you see a student able to do something they haven’t done before – and to see the smiles on their faces – it’s worth celebrating,” said Crawford.
Lakeview Principal Kelley Carr couldn’t be more pleased with her fifth-grade teacher team. As a campus leader, she feels it is important for teachers to lead, develop, and teach each other. “When that takes place and it’s successful, you’re going to see it trickle down to the students, and that’s what you’re seeing as this team works together for one common goal.”