Saturday, January 16, 2016

Student-Led Conferences in the SPED Classroom

When our principal announced that everyone at our school would be doing student-led conferences this year, I first thought, my students? Student-led conferences??

While I knew she would make an exception for my students...I am always determined to provide my students access to EVERYTHING that their typical peers have access to and set very high expectations for them. So I began to think of ways to make this work for my students! If they can do it, my students can too!! :) 

Well let me just say, I won't be going back! I will be doing student-led conferences for all of my future conferences! I am so excited to share the success with you! 

After some brainstorming, I came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt. Who doesn't get excited over a scavenger hunt, right?! 
Students had to show/complete 10 different activities with their parent(s) and cross them out as they were completed. 
I placed one of these little numbered cups with a different letter in each activity center/area. Each time an activity was crossed off they received a letter for that activity. 

Once they had completed all ten activities and had earned all ten of their letters, the parent and their child had to use the letters to spell out my mystery phrase to both win a prize!

The mystery phrase was "Student Led," of course! It worked out perfect that it was 10 letters!
Students got to choose a prize from our class treasure tree.
Parents got to choose a prize from this basket! I also had candy bars and some other cool stuff in the basket, but forgot to take a picture at the beginning. The parents were just as excited as the kids to get a prize!

For my non-verbal, lower functioning student, I edited her scavenger hunt sheet to fit her curriculum and included independent task boxes that she was currently working on. So many of the boxes on her sheet read, "Task Box 1," "Task Box 2," and so on. 

One of the 10 activity squares on the scavenger hunt sheet was a "free choice" activity so that students had the opportunity to show their parent(s) one thing of their choice in the classroom.

I didn't tell my students anything about the scavenger hunt prior, but we did practice what they would be showing and doing with their parents prior to conference day so they could be prepared!

Here are a few photos of my students leading their conference!

It turned out better than I ever imagined. It brought a tear to my eye, watching how well my students did and how proud they were as well as seeing how surprised the parents even were!

I allowed 45 minutes for each conference, which ended up being the perfect amount of time. And although I didn't have to double schedule any students, you could easily have multiple families in your room doing this at once.

I love that the students were involved! In the past, students didn't even attend. It was just me and the parent(s). Now rather than just a traditional conference where I go over data, assessments, attendance, behaviors, etc. with the the parent can actually see firsthand what their child is doing and learning every day in their classroom! And when students actively participate in their learning, they are empowered!

Never second guess your students, they may just surprise you!

Thanks a Bunch, 


  1. This is such an awesome way to have your special learners lead their conference. Im sure they (and their parents) were very proud!!

  2. What an fabulous idea! Would you be willing to share your scavenger hunt page?

    1. I made up an editable one Kathy. Here is the link.

  3. Wow! All I can say is wow! As a parent of a special needs child, I am so impressed! I got a little tear in my eye too just by reading this. I can't imagine how proud you were of your students as they actually were showing their parents around the room. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Teaching is Sweet


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