I’ve spoken before about conferencing. It, above all, is the most important, most effective thing I do with my kids. It is a time during which I strive to give them 100% of my attention in a world that demands my constant attention, often dividing me into a million parts over the course of the day. So, as such, I have to make an intentional effort to be available for each kid, not all kids. I do that with conferencing.
For the next two days, I will sit down with each kid to check in on his/her progress with our speeches. I have learned that I can accomplish more in a three-minute conference than I can by writing ten-minutes worth of comments on their papers. In addition, beyond the academic aspects of the conversation, I get to know each kid better, making connections that help create community and culture in our classroom. Of course, this approach is not without its challenges, for as I meet with one, I have twenty-nine others in the room who have to be engaged, so I can give my full attention to the moment. This is how I do it.
- Provide meaningful work, not just busy work. This is one of the reasons why I have us juggling more than one thing at a time. The kids always have something that they are working on or towards. Thus, they not only need the time, but they also appreciate the time.
- Rely on relationships. At this point in the year, my investment in establishing and maintaining relationships with my kids begins to pay off, soI make some withdrawals on those relationships, requesting rather than demanding their cooperation and consideration during conference time.
- Use a timer. I will have my cell phone with me to keep me on track. Really hard to get to thirty students in two periods if I don’t.
- Push preparedness. I ask the kids to prepare for the conferences by having ready specific, this-is-what-I-would-like-help-with questions. It streamlines the process. Of course, some kids simply don’t know what to ask or where to enter into the conversation, and that’s okay, too. It generally takes only a moment for us to find an entry point.
Nothing fancy, but for me it works, and the more we do it, the better it gets. Love, love, love this part of my job. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all.
- Roll the Die: Morning Minutes, March 16, 2016
- Some Spring in My Step: Morning Minutes, March 18, 2016