How to Use
1. Declare a Purpose
A student conference should be used to discuss a student’s performance or behavior. It can be used as a deterrent technique – when student performance has changed or there seems to be something troubling a student. A conference can also be part of a “consequence menu” - it can serve as a step in the discipline process. For example, if a student is off task or exhibiting inappropriate classroom behavior, a verbal warning can be given. If the behavior continues, the next step may be a student conference, then a buddy classroom, parent contact, and so on.
2. Hold the Conference
The actual conference with the student should be private and between the teacher and student only, without other classmates. The teacher should clearly explain the reason for the conference, the issue that is concerning the teacher, and how the student and teacher can work together. The conference should include a dialogue which allows the student to explain his or her point of view, while at the same time answering the teacher’s questions.
3. Keep a Record
It is essential to keep track of student conferences. A simple form or log can be used to acknowledge when the conference occurred, why it occurred, and what was accomplished. See the Visuals section for an example. Many teachers have students fill out a form acknowledging what happened during the conference and what both student and teacher decided to do in response to the issues discussed.
4. Follow Up
It is important to check in with the student after the conference, even if it is just briefly. If the student’s behavior or performance has improved since the conference, provide feedback and praise. If inappropriate behavior is still occurring, it may be necessary to go to the next step of the discipline plan or hold another conference involving a parent and/or administrator.
When to Use
Student conferences should be used when a private conversation with a student is necessary. They can be used as a deterrent technique during or after class, after noticing a decline in the student’s academic performance or behavioral choices over a grading period, or anytime a teacher feels he or she needs to address a behavior.
When necessary, conferences can be held with the student, teacher, and a parent or guardian of the student.
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