A Message from the Head of Middle School: February 12

A Message from the Head of Middle School: February 12
  • Academics
Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School

Spring conferences are around the corner and we’re already preparing for our time with you! In Middle School, spring conferences are student-led. As a Middle School, we are committed to helping students invest in their own learning and develop a growth mindset. We strive to ensure Bernard Zell graduates know they can develop their skills and talents through effort and diligence while being receptive to feedback. To accomplish this, we know that students must be involved in the conversation about their strengths, weaknesses and goals. Student-led conferences promote a culture of student engagement that results in reflective and proactive advocates of personal learning. 

Student-led conferences are similar to a traditional parent-teacher conference, but the student is present and in charge of leading the discussion. Student-led conferences can take a number of different forms, but roles stay the same. 

  • The teacher acts as a facilitator for the discussion.
  • The student presents their work and guides the discussion.
  • The parents listen and speak with their child about his or her academic and social progress and needs.

While the format of student-led conferences may differ from subject to subject, the roles stay the same — they allow students to be a part of the conversation about their academic and social progress and goals and are an opportunity to discuss how together we can help them grow. 

Our faculty strongly believes in student-led conferences and therefore carves out specific time to work with each individual student. Preparation for these conferences is key; teachers work to reflect with students on their progress through their work, classroom participation and assessments. Most often, students select pieces of work to speak specifically to how far they’ve come, what they still need to learn and what they’re proud of. Often these student-teacher preparation conversations reveal more than conventional assessments.

Across the Middle School journey, we see students grow through student-led conferences. As we move from 5th to 8th grade, teachers find that students are more easily able to identify areas of growth and feel more comfortable to express how teachers and parents can support them. We also see students develop an ability to create and apply SMART goals to their learning. Students also build their presentation and discussion leading skills; becoming leaders of discussion and active listeners of conversation and feedback.

A recent survey regarding parent-teacher conferences showed that parents value time with individual teachers as well as teacher feedback. Student-led conferences maintain both of these values while adding the student's voice. It’s important to know that teachers are working side by side with students to prepare for these conferences and are directly involved with the content.

We are committed as a school to applying your feedback and improving your conference experience. Recent feedback revealed the value families place on meeting with each teacher. We also heard the challenges experienced during sign-up. We are actively working as a leadership team to make scheduling easier. As we begin planning for the upcoming school year across divisions, conferences are at the forefront of our minds –both the content and the scheduling of them!

Most importantly, our Middle School team is always willing to share and collaborate toward the growth of our students. While conferences are scheduled for a few days in the fall and spring, teachers and I are an email or phone call away with an unwavering commitment to partner with you to support our students.


Stephanie Bloom
Head of Middle School



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