Two Athlos schools recently saw astounding successes during their first ever student-led conferences (SLCs). In October, both Athlos Academy of Utah and Athlos Academy of St. Cloud held their first school-wide SLCs in kindergarten through the sixth grade.
At Athlos schools, SLCs take the place of traditional parent-teacher conferences. SLCs empower students to honestly reflect on their own learning, take ownership of their individual successes and challenges, and set specific goals moving forward.
For Athlos Academy of Utah and Athlos Academy of St. Cloud, both in their first year, these conferences were not only new to the students, but also a completely new concept to many of the school administrators, teachers, and staff.
“We told the schools that the first round of SLCs should be an introduction to the process so that the leadership, the teachers, and the families could all start to understand the purpose and process,” said Amy Dolan, middle school specialist with Athlos Academies. “We modified expectations for portfolios and scripts, but both schools far exceeded them!”
Dolan and the team at Athlos Academies home court in Boise helped prepare school staff and students for their first conferences by creating a course complete with video resources; providing the team with templates and sample letters to families about the purpose, process, and logistics of the conferences; and then going on-site to provide any support needed.
Teachers worked with students to prepare them for their conferences, and students shared work and reflections with their families during their conferences. Athletic performance coaches at each school set up stations where, after classroom conferences, students could share a turf experience and demonstrate the Athlos athletic curriculum to their parents.
“A sixth-grade teacher in St. Cloud told me how nervous her students were because they had never had to facilitate a conference like that,” Dolan said. “It was a great chance for her to build relationships with those students as she reassured them about how she is on their side and would be there to help/support them, but that she also was going to make sure they were well prepared. She said the pride on students’ faces when it was over was really powerful.”
As these and more Athlos schools move ahead with their SLCs, Dolan is looking forward to seeing each school take ownership of a culture of student responsibility for learning and normalize the process with teachers and families.
“I’m also excited to see how the students will grow and mature through this process,” she said.
Utah: 96% school-wide participation
St. Cloud: 87% school-wide participation
“It is amazing to hear students talk about strengths in student-led conferences, but also weaknesses and how they know just what to work on.”
– Teacher, Athlos Academy of Utah
“Student led conferences really let me see just how we can have high expectations and students will work toward them.”
– Teacher, Athlos Academy of Utah
“Listening to my child at student-led conferences showed me how powerful it can be if the student understands what they are learning in school.”
– Parent, Athlos Academy of Utah
“I wasn’t as nervous about these conferences because my teacher helped me be prepared and I got to be in charge.”
– Fifth-grade student, Athlos Academy of Utah