The student-led conference

Back in my day, parent-teacher conferences involved mums and dads trooping into the classroom at allotted times to talk to the teacher, with the student otherwise occupied elsewhere.

Knowing full well you were being discussed, you had little choice but to wait nervously – your ears ablaze – until your parents returned and you could gauge the expression on their faces as they walked through the door.

How times change.

Today we went to my six-year-old’s school for his student-led conference – which I presume are becoming popular the world over.

The information reminded forgetful parents to express pride in their children's progress and provided sample questions!
We’d been prepped by the school beforehand with a letter telling us what to do. It would be a ‘non-teaching day’ (which, and I did have to think about this, was a fancy way of saying ‘a day off for the kids’) with 30-minute slots for each child/parent combo.

The idea was for your child to take you through his or her work in the classroom. In case this whole concept was beyond us, we were advised to be supportive, be positive, be curious and to listen to our children.

A slight, okay glaring, error on my part meant our son was the only child not in school uniform when we rolled up for our turn (DH and I both looked at each other as if to say, “do you not read the emails?”), but I think I made up for it by asking BB lots of questions. Whilst lavishing praise, my journalism training meant I practically quizzed him and what I’d heard about these conferences was right: the kids jump at the chance to show off their work.

One of the books was a diary and, on further inspection, I realised his teacher must know everything about what we do as a family. Our trip to an airport museum in Sharjah, outings on the monorail, parties and visitors – it was all there, coloured in and with scrawly handwriting in places. Thank goodness there weren’t any pictures of mummy sitting on the sofa, glued to the iPad (phew).

As we went through his ‘portfolio’, the teacher was obviously listening from behind her desk, but wasn’t participating – BB did most of the talking and thoroughly enjoyed it.

At the end, as we were leaving, I nudged DH to remind him he’d wanted to ask the teacher about something on BB’s report card. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “I’ll wait till next time.”

Kids – when it comes to student-led conferences, you’re onto a winner!

6 thoughts on “The student-led conference

  1. Ah, those were so much fun! Once they get to high school, all of it has to be so darn serious and hardly any fun. I still have most of the writing journals my boys kept in elementary school and it’s still funny to see what they wrote about our family. From the other side of the desk, though, I can say that kids of all ages love to talk about themselves (yes, even teenagers do this) and their families, if you give them a chance. Not to worry, though: we teachers have heard it all – kind of like a confessional, you know? ; )

    • It was really fun! And hilarious to see BB’s take on family life – there was a picture of me and a male figure, labelled with what looked like ‘Bob’ but was meant to say Dad apparently!

  2. It was so much fun! Joli’s book contained little stories that always started with: Me and my Nanny went to the pool… Me and my Nanny went to the store… They must think that her Dad obviously married the Nanny (like that TV show…)

  3. That sounds like a fun conference. Ours are much more old fashioned here. But when do you get a chance to talk about your child without them being there? I feel like I need that time to talk about any concerns with their behaviour/ progress.

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