Introvert-Led Conferences

Let's empower ALL students to convey meaningful learning and serve as the connection point between teachers and parents.

Photo of Pam Ambler
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In my role as a college counselor, I have many conferences with students / families. Particularly in the case of working with introverts, I've noticed that parents tend to speak on behalf of their students; additionally, parents direct their questions at me (rather than at their student). To turn the tide, I developed and am now iterating a student-led conference "script" that places the student at the center of his college search process.

In advance of the SLC, the student and I meet one-on-one. This meeting occurs in November or December. During our time together, I emphasize the components of the college application (including essays, activities, transcripts / curric / grades, testing, letters of rec, etc). I also provide a handout of prioritized "next steps" for the student. Leading up to the SLC, I share a google doc that relays a "script" for the student to follow. {Attached.} In advance of the SLC (in January or February), the student must populate the script with his own notes.

Goals of the SLC:  organization, long-term planning, public speaking, collaboration, and self-reflection.

The most positive bi-product of my first two piloted SLCs was watching introverted students feel "heard" for the first time in their respective lives! I feel the model of providing a rough script provides a template for a thoughtful student to populate his priorities prior to the conference. I believe this shift in responsibility will provide wonderful scaffolding for the student as he prepares for college and beyond.

The one-on-one meeting I conduct with my students prepares them to become an expert in their own processes. I am intentional about explaining that, because I take such great time with them individually, I expect that they may know more about the college process than their own parent. They love hearing that! I also explain how I envision the student taking the lead in the SLC. These SLCs last one hour.  I'm excited to learn if intentionally having student lead these conferences might breed more thoughtful conversation at home, and might also lead to parents trust and encourage students to research the college process more thoughtfully.

Attachments (1)

SLCJuniorleadsFamily .pdf

this attachment is a work in progress....


Join the conversation:

Photo of Michael Schurr

Hi Pam, I love you post. I have been giving a lot of thought about the different types of students and what student led conferences might feel like for them.  I am curious about the implications for other areas in schools. What might this look like for an introverted student in elementary or middle school? How might we make the process more comfortable? I also wonder about ambiverts, a student who at times might be very out going but in other situations not comfortable. Maybe sharing their learning with their parent does not feel comfortable.  Is there a way to play around with the style of presenting their learning? For some, could it be digital vs in person?  Just some thoughts, sorry for all the questions!  Let me know if you are interested in playing around with any of these questions and we could get a google doc started.


Photo of Pam Ambler

Thanks, Michael! Your thought process is easy to follow; I am drawn to the idea of SLCs taking on a new format depending on the S's disposition. Like you, I'm an ambivert, and I believe we are in a unique position to empathize with different types of students in myriad situations.

A college-counseling specific example that comes to mind follows: even extroverted students can shut down in these "family" conference - mostly, mom / dad "has/have all the answers, so why bother speaking up?". A SLC with clear purpose could sets up a student (elem, middle, or high) to be "seen and heard" for the first time.

I structured, but flexible format could provide scaffolding for all students to successfully navigate these convos. I guess that's the question - "HMW design a structured, but flexible format with appropriate scaffolding for all students who conduct SLCs?"

When I'm feeling more introverted (especially before phone conversations), I tend to jot down my bullet points in advance. In a sense, I almost lay out a script. That's where this idea takes shape.
I'm now envisioning a pictorial "choose your own adventure" type SLC with an optional flow chart for Ss.

Digital vs in-person could be one of the many options to explore!

If you'd like to start the google doc, I'm happy to meet you in g-space!

One more thought - I think it's important that we also consider support parents in this process as they may feel a little off-kilter handing over the reigns to a student. Parents of our middle school students have let me know that it's important to them to have the opportunity to ask questions of the teacher (or, counselor in my case). Perhaps an FAQ sheet, an agenda, or a timeline would meet parents where they are as we work to empower Ss.