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Accountability, Motivation, and Progress: One Student's Take On Student-Led Conferences

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    Alexis Margolin

This reflection on Student-Led Conferences (SLCs) and their role in supporting the evolution of accountability, motivation, and progress among EL students was published in the EL National Conference 2014 newsletter, Signpost. The piece was written by New York City Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School senior, Erika Cabrera.

For the past seven years, I have presented a portfolio of my work three times a year in Student-Led Conferences (SLC) between my family, myself and my teacher who is my “crew” advisor. In these 20-minute conferences, using my work as evidence, I share my strengths and weaknesses, and keep my family and crew leader up-to-date on my educational progress.

The first time I was told I would have a Student-Led Conference, I was scared. I did not understand, as a sixth grader, why I had to be in charge of such an important discussion. I was used to having a five-minute Parent Teacher Conference where my report card was distributed and my mother was out the door; I did not really have to take any responsibility. However, SLCs shift accountability to the shoulders of the student, making me aware of my progress, my challenges and what I should focus on moving forward. They also allow me to be completely honest about my grades and work ethic.

Having SLCs puts the student, family and school on the same page and creates an accountability system for goals and progress. I also feel significant motivation to accomplish my goals because I have committed and agreed to them with my family and crew leader. During SLCs, I take charge of my own education and progress. Through SLCs, I have learned that my family members and crew leaders can support me along the way if something feels challenging.