Taking ownership of learning is an essential aspect of the middle school experience. King guides students in discovering who they are and how they learn. Part of this development is having students lead the traditional Parent-Teacher Conferences. The result is meetings that foster accountability and encourage students to develop self-advocacy skills. Open communication channels yield better academic performance and strengthen student relationships with teachers and family.
“Traditionally, the experience of our young adolescents is that the adults in their lives get together and discuss their school experience without them,” explained the Head of Middle School, Dr. Joshua Deitch.
He added that the process of student-led conferences is emblematic of King’s middle school goals in helping students find their voice.
“It feels empowering to be responsible for my own learning,” said Briana Scharlat ’27. “Being able to choose my interests and decide my schedule is very exciting and opens up many options for me to continue to grow.”
In the three weeks leading up to the conferences, students review their progress with advisors, noting any patterns in their performance.
Every middle school student has an Advisor to mentor and advocate. Advisors are ever-present, ensuring students have needed assistance and are keeping pace with their middle school program. Each day starts with students meeting in their Advisor’s homeroom, allowing for an ongoing dialogue about progress and challenges and tailoring support to each student.
Advisors serve as the primary contact point between home and school and can guide students and families to the appropriate sources for information. Advisors facilitate performance conferences and formally review each advisee’s academic performance, progress toward established goals, and citizenship contributions at the end of each marking period. Their comments are included on the end-of-year report cards.
As they prepare for the Student-led Parent-Teacher Conferences, students are asked to look beyond individual classes and grades and focus on strengths and opportunities as learners. This includes assessing executive functioning skills, including material management, planning, study methods, and note-taking, before setting goals for the next quarter.
During conferences, students present their assessments, along with work samples, to their parents. Advisors are present as facilitators, and parents are encouraged to ask questions that will help the student succeed. If a parent has a question or concern that only the teacher can answer, they are encouraged to reach out at a separate time.
“I hope to gain from this experience a greater ability to be self-reflective and be able to make decisions about my classes geared towards my interests,” said Briana.
At their core, the conferences help students understand that while they are their most important advocates, they are supported by a team of caring adults.