I teach 6th grade math and science at an international school in Seoul, South Korea. I have taught in the US, Egypt, Ghana and Zimbabwe prior to my time in Korea. I love learning new things, collaborating with others, and redesigning old ideas to make them better and more relevant!
Our SLC's have evolved over the years. We started out using a portfolio and preparing the students to discuss their strengths using evidence from the portfolio and then to outline a plan for goals. We had a clear vision and purpose for SLC This was great the first year. And then the second year, parents complained that this was something they could talk about their students with at home, and they didn't need to drive to school to have this discussion with their kids. That felt a bit unfair, but our admin wanted us to design a different experience, and I think that's where we lost the focus of our vision and purpose. We changed our SLC's to try to be more unique in the sense that parents would experience their child's learning in a way they couldn't at home. So we had students sharing their learning in the science lab by demonstrating their experiments and then reflecting on them (live) ... same for mini live performances, readings, ect. However, thats where we got our most recent criticism that the parents weren't getting enough face time with teachers. They want to hear from the teacher about how the kids are doing. Personally, I think If we had better communication with parents on a regular basis, the parents wouldn't feel like they don't hear from us enough.
I think my connection with this blog post resonates from the feedback (and criticism) we have received from parents about our Student Led Conferences. The SLC have been such a positive experience for our students, it really made me wonder about why the parents were unhappy with them. One reason could be due to the fact that we haven't built collaborative relationships with our parents this year as well as we could have. I think for any parent-teacher conference framework to be successful, that ground work needs to be laid. There has to be a culture of collaboration and open communication established already in order to make the most of our time together with parents. John presents some really great ideas on how to do that. I do believe that it is all part of the process!