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Want to maximize student growth? Of course, we all do! Read below to learn about the power and effectiveness of intentional and strategic student conferences.

John Hattie studied over 500,000 research studies and concluded that FEEDBACK remains the most effective instructional strategy.

He found that it’s not just about the feedback WE (educators) give, it’s about the feedback we RECEIVE from students and how we use it. The goal of feedback is for students to understand it so they can apply it. Our goal must then be to understand how students are receiving, understanding and applying our feedback. We learn this by observing, communicating, and pausing to listen to students.

Hattie discusses three important questions that students and teachers must clearly understand and be able to answer.

  1. Where am I going?

  2. How am I going?

  3. Where to next?

Hattie explains that when a teacher provides feedback to the whole class, only seconds of the conversation may be received by the students. He states that students often think “it’s not for them.” Students are human and they are selective listeners just like adults.

Conferring with students provides the opportunity for us to apply Hattie’s work. Pause and listen. Take time to understand exactly what has been perceived and understood by the student. Discuss goals clearly. Provide the student with specific and appropriate strategies that steer him/her to the next level of learning. Clearly state learning goals and have students explain them back to you. Most importantly make sure students leave the conference with actionable steps and strategies that can be immediately applied that will help them improve. Be crystal clear and show them (not just tell) exactly what you want them to do. After all, if they aren’t able to apply what’s been taught, what’s the point?

When you understand what research teaches us about feedback, how can we afford not to confer with students? I know, I know, your time with students is limited and precious. Instead of saying there’s no time to add student conferring into an already packed schedule (I've been there), think about how you can change your schedule to implement strategies, such as conferring, that are proven to work when implemented with fidelity. (No cherry picking allowed!)

My experience with student conferencing opened my eyes to the true abilities of my students and how to best prescribe their instruction. In the hustle and bustle it's so easy to rely on an electronic program to provide all your data. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of including digital interventions, but that's just one data point. It should not be a student's only intervention. No electronic program should ever take the place of the teacher's professional expertise, knowledge and instruction. Digital solutions are meant to serve as supplemental instruction and data, not the primary source.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, what the teacher values will be implemented behind those closed classroom doors and will impact students. It’s important to understand the value and impact of consistent and effective feedback and conferring. So take the time to learn more about implementing effective student conferences. If you truly want to help your students improve, learn how to make conferring worth every second.

Stick around! I will be providing more specific information about how to implement student conferences, the different types of conferences, the strategies and skills that might be included and resources that will help you get started or improve.

If you, or your school or district would like support implementing intentional student conferences, please feel free to email me or click the "Yes! Let's chat!" button below to schedule a consultation to discuss your goals and needs!

Do you implement conferences? How often? What types?

I would love to hear your feedback!

Please leave a comment below, send me an email or message me on Instagram or Facebook with questions or feedback.

Michael Singletary

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