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  • Bran Hicks M.Ed.

Student-Led Conferences for Special Education | Teach Tastic

Updated: Sep 1, 2022


What is a Student-led Conference?

Student-led conferences (SLCs) are conferences where the student is given choice and power in setting up their conference. They allow the students to choose the location, date, time, and agenda of what will be discussed. They take away the stress for both parents/guardians and teachers because it is more informal, student-friendly, and lets students choose what they would like to discuss.


What Are the Differences Between a Special Education Student-led Conference and a Teacher Conference?


Special education student-led conferences are meetings between the student, their parents or guardians, and their teacher that is organized and led by the student. They are usually used to discuss the student's progress and goals and come up with a plan for moving forward. In contrast, a teacher-led conference is a meeting that is organized and led by the teacher. It is usually used to discuss the student's progress and goals and come up with a plan for moving forward.


However, it is important to note that special education student-led conferences are not just for students who are considered "high functioning". Regardless of their level of functioning, all students can benefit from having a say in their own education.


What is the benefit of a student-led conference?

The benefit of a student-led conference is that the student has a voice in their education. They are able to share their goals and what they have been working on with their teachers. This helps the student feel more ownership of their education and builds a relationship of trust between the student and teacher. It also allows the teacher to get feedback from the student on their progress. In contrast to a traditional conference, a student-led conference lets the student take the lead, which can help them feel more confident and empowered.


How to Conduct a Special Education Student-Led Conferences

Traditional parent-teacher conferences are usually held at the school during a set time when the parents can attend. They generally last around 30-45 minutes.


In contrast, student-led conferences can occur anywhere the student feels comfortable and at any length of time. This is important to note as it can directly tie into accommodation and modification currently outlined in the student Individualized Education Program (IEP).


How do you schedule a special education student-led conference?

Scheduling student-led conferences typically happen during an existing parent/teacher conference day once a school year. Typically, special education teachers will contact the parents to set a mutually agreed-upon meeting date and time that takes place every 45 minutes. To ensure adequate preparation, they should be scheduled in advance.


What can you do during a special education student-led conference?

Student-led conferences do not have a specific agenda, but instead, They typically begin with the student introducing themselves and their family to their parents/guardians and teacher(s). Student-led conferences give students a chance to show what they have learned in school that day or reflect on topics covered over a set amount of time. Student-led conferences also allow students to discuss their strengths and challenges in school and set goals for the future.


If a student cannot fully participate in the student-led process, it is important to allow the student to participate at the highest level possible. Therefore, utilize all accommodations and modifications noted in the student's IEP as well as differentiate the process so that the student can access this experience and learning opportunity as close to the same-age peers as possible.