Student Led Conferences for Health and Physical Education
Submitted by: Collin Dillon
HPEC Website/Social Media Executive
Student led conferences (Or Parent Teacher Conferences) is something that can have a variety of reactions to teachers. For a first year teacher, it can be the first face to face interaction with a parent about their child's progress. To seasoned teachers who have built a strong rapport with their parents and students, it can be a time to really dig deeper into how they can work together in ensuring their child is on their way to their potential.
These experiences are more common to classroom teachers who are responsible for a homeroom or specific grade, but for Health and Physical Education teachers, these evenings can result in a lot of twiddling thumbs and wondering why the parents are not coming to see you. Health and Physical Education historically can struggle with a perception that parents want to see their child's (air quotes) "Core Subject Teachers" and see how they are doing in the classroom and simply will not have time visiting with their Health and Physical Education teacher. I have spent years experiencing this and with my recent move to a new High School, St. John Paul II - Faculte Jean-Paul II Catholic School (JP2), I decided to take a different approach to my Student Led Conferences.
This experience started with some reading I came across from a former HPEC Keynote Speaker, Dr. Amanda Stanec, who had blogged about questions to ask a PE teacher during Student Led Conference - LINK - and it reminded me of the work that Andy Vasily has blogged about PE Student Led Conferences - LINK - So I had decided to implement my own version of our St. John Paul II \ Faculte Jean-Paul II Catholic School Health and Physical Education Student Led Conference.
Our school has endorsed a theme that we will take care of our students' Mind, Body, and Soul and with the support of my administration, they allowed me to use the gymnasium during the Student Led Conferences to highlight the true happenings that occur in Health and Physical Education at JP2. I essentially created 5 stations with each station having a variety of questions that ranged from health topics, alternative environments, and some fundamental movement skills. Each question prompted the student to respond and explain to their parents what the question meant and what they have learned thus far in the course. It also gave students the opportunity to demonstrate some of their skills and to "teach" their parents about the skill. The stations I created can be found HERE.
What happened with this style of Student Led Conference allowed students to be proud of the work they have done so far, they demonstrated a sense of accomplishment because they were able to be the teachers and share specific cues, details and key understandings we have done so far. I could also have multiple families in the stations so it limited the waiting times for parents to visit me and quickly chat about their child. It also gave me the opportunity to essentially hand the learning over to the students and really get to highlight the relationship their child has with health and physical activity. A lot of the parents were not expecting this type of conference but the amount of parents that were actively participating in the station made me think that this method is something I will continue with moving forward throughout the year. My hope is that for the next Student Led Conferences I will actually send out the stations prior in a newsletter formally inviting them to visit me.
If you would like to know more about my Student Led Conferences and have some feedback I would love to collaborate with you. It is a format that, if you can get support from your administration, can be a very effective way to highlight the importance of Health and Physical Education in your school as well as the impact your programming has had on their child. Be sure to email me at email@example.com