Student-Led Conferences

The Parent-Teacher Struggle and a Solution

The Struggle

There is an age-old struggle that anyone who has ever attended school or been a parent of a person who attended school is familiar with. No, not the struggle between good and evil, that’s for another blog post, but the struggle between parents and teachers, which ends up being a struggle between good and good. The struggle between parents and teachers tends to be a break down of communication. Thankfully, here at Maharishi School, we think we have the solution.

I am going to give you a few scenarios. You let me know if any of these sound familiar.

“What?! This project is due tomorrow?! Why is this the first time I am hearing that you need 37 different colored pencils, 4 rolls of aluminum foil, and 2 bags of light green, fake moss?” Then you spend the next 3 hours going to every store within reasonable driving distance (read 1.5 hours radius) that MIGHT have fake moss.

“What do you mean you have only been wearing one shoe to school for the last 6 months?”

“Honey, I just got an email inviting me to a student art showcase this Friday. In the email is says it is YOUR WORK BEING SHOWCASED! How is this the first time I am hearing about this?”

Any of that ring any bells? Yeah, me too. Sounds pretty familiar.

The Solution

Well, we decided it was time to strengthen the communication between teachers and parents because we are all on the same team here. We want our students to succeed. You want your kids to be passionate, to do well in school, to be well adjusted, and to have the ability to dream big and achieve those dreams. So that gave us an idea. What do teachers and parents have in common? THE STUDENTS! Our overlap is our students, your kids – one in the same. We concluded that the solution to the communication break down was the students. This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone. We put notes in kids’ backpacks. We send them home with information to pass along to their parents. Etc. But what if we put the students in charge of the information? What if we let the students decide the most important parts of what they are learning? What if we let the students decide where they are struggling each quarter? What if we enabled the students, gave them the proper tools and supported them, to be in charge of their own information?

Student-Led Conferences This the the paradigm shift that brought us to Student-Led Conferences. In student-led conferences, students, parents, and teachers meet together to discuss what the student has picked out. They talk about successes and failures, triumphs and the lessons they learned; they set goals and plan to reach them. To read more about our most recent Student-Led Conferences, click here.

Although this is still a learning experience for us and there are still improvements to be made, we think this is the road to a solution. When we give our kids the power and ability to be take responsibility, we continually see them live up to their own expectations (because they set the expectations) and go beyond. Student-Led Conferences encourage students to self-regulate, to self-adjust, and to communicate. Let’s just say that again: our kids COMMUNICATE! That includes our quiet teenagers too. Read some of our parent and student experiences here.

Empower Our Kids

Our solution boils down to the idea that we don’t want to demand our students to comply with the things we ask them to do; instead, we empower them to put value on things that are important to them and communicate that value to the people around them. Isn’t that an important skill set to have? We believe this empowerment leads to our students’ success because it let’s them decide what ignited their passion, let’s them focus on that passion, and allows them to plan a path to their own success. From the beginning, they took ownership of their own success. That’s powerful.

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Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556