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Classroom Management: Hold a Student-Teacher Conference

Janelle Cox

Have you ever conferenced with your students? If so, did you find it to be an effective way to connect and understand them better? Using classroom management to conduct conferences with your students is a great way for you to get to get to know them better. In addition to that, conferences provide a platform for students to plan and set goals, reflect upon their work, and understand their performance in class and the progress or lack of progress they have achieved. These meetings do not have to last long (they are typically 5-15 minutes) and require little to no classroom management preparation on the teacher’s part. They are an effective way to use classroom management to communicate, connect, and motivate students in a more personal way.

Classroom Management Tips on Conferencing

Here are a few tips on how to hold a student-teacher conference in your classroom.

Plan Ahead

It’s helpful when you plan ahead and create a student-conference schedule. By preplanning, you have the opportunity to create a set date and time to meet with each student. It also gives you the chance to prepare anything that you need ahead of time, like gathering papers of progress or instructing students to come up a few discussion topics for your meeting.

Create Your Objectives

Create a list of objectives that you want to address with each student. This can be topics that you want to discuss, strategies that you want students to learn and use, or even behaviors that you want to eradicate.  Creating this list will ensure that you will discuss these topics in the meeting.

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Encourage Student-Lead Conferences

Long gone are the days when only teachers had a say in their students’ education. Today’s teachers are finding that when you give students the opportunity to have a say in their education, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged to learn. Encourage your students to come to the meetings with questions and concerns that they may have. Ask them to write down a few notes to bring with them and give them the opportunity to share what they have to say.

Take Time to Reflect

Student-teacher conferences are the perfect time for a child to learn how to reflect. They can reflect on their progress, their behavior, or anything for that matter. Ask questions that prompt them, such as “What can you do to improve next time?” and “What is an approach you can use for this situation?” Self-reflection is a strategy that will benefit students in all aspects of their lives. Encourage students to try and come up with their own solutions to their problems during the meeting.

Clearly State Your Concerns

Student-teacher conferences are the time to clearly state any concerns that you have for the student. Try and keep it to a maximum of two concerns per conference. You don’t want the student to feel berated or overwhelmed. It’s best to stick to one or two things for the student to focus on at a time. Make sure that before the student leaves the conference they have a clear idea of what, and how, to fix the ideas and concerns that were discussed in the meeting. 

Measure Progress with Documentation

At each conference that you have with the student, it’s vital that you document everything. You will use this document to see how much progress the student made from your last meeting. It’s also a great resource to use at parent-teacher conferences, as well as it provides detailed information about the solutions and strategies that the student is, or will be using.

How to Approach the Conference

Here are a few tips on how you can approach the student-teacher conference.

  • Plan it at a time when the other students are busy working in stations or small groups. This way you can take one table at a time to conference with. The students at the “Conference” table that are waiting to meet with you can work on questions or concerns to bring to the meeting, or other busy work.
  • Make sure that you conference with the students in a place where you are far away from the other students, but close enough that you can keep an eye on everything. Ideally, the best place would be at your desk or the reading table.
  • Let students know ahead of time that you will be having student-teacher conferences with them. This gives them enough time to get prepared for it.

Conferences are a great way to get to know your students on a more personal level. The students will feel like they really know you, which will help increase their trust with you. Every chance that you get to meet with your students is an opportunity for assessment. This way you will have less time assessing at the end of the marking period, as well as a lot of notes to help you out when grading.

Do you hold student-teacher conferences in your classroom? If so, what is the process like, and do you find them to be an effective form of assessment? Please share you thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.