This year in the Middle and Upper Schools we are introducing student-led conferences, a practice that we believe will support student learning, help develop communication skills and self-confidence, and provide a forum for parents to engage with their children around their goals, aspirations, and achievements.
The student-led conferences consolidate two priorities of the Maharishi School that have already been introduced, namely the Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) and the portfolio. For several years, students have been creating the ILP in their SCI classes, articulating goals for themselves that are meant to reflect growth and to affirm the values and attributes that we embrace as a school.
High school students have also created online portfolios through Pathbrite, an easy-to-use program for collecting and sharing work that represents growth and makes them proud. Increasingly, top colleges and universities are looking for evidence of creativity, passion, and perseverance beyond the limited and often distorted picture that grades and test scores present.
The student-led conference provides a forum for students to share their best work with parents and to reflect honestly on their own goals and aspirations. The very act of reflection itself helps students to consolidate and strengthen concepts that are pivotal to their growth and development. Perhaps most importantly, these conferences provide a natural point for family engagement that will strengthen the relationship between parents, students and the school.
According to the Harvard Family Research Project, “Parent–teacher conferences are an important component of ongoing home-school communication and family involvement in your school. Years of research demonstrate that family involvement in education can lead to positive benefits for children and youth, such as increased school attendance, higher academic performance, and improved attitudes about school. As principal, your leadership will ensure that these conferences achieve their maximum potential.”
We look forward to your feedback on the conferences!