When it comes to conferring, two of the stumbling blocks for teachers are actually committing to do it, and then keeping notes when they do.
The act of hopping up, walking over to students, and working with them may be new for some of us. My friend Cindy openly recognized that moving to students was a new behavior for her, and it has taken time for her to make it a habit. She had been meeting each day with three to four groups of students who came to her for instruction. To move into the room when those groups were finished, making the most of her remaining instructional time, required a bit of a mind and body shift.
One thing we have found that helps with building this habit of conferring with individuals is to write down our teaching and next steps in a conferring notebook or in our online conferring notebook, the CCPensieve.
Writing down our teaching points and student learning and progress toward a goal is analogous to our recording which Daily 5 activity students select when they check in. It gives purpose to the work students are doing and gives us purpose for the teaching we are doing. The notes we take don't have to be long; all we need is the key information:
- Title of the book being read
- Whether the student is using the strategy being taught, and if so, how
- What we taught during the conference
- Next steps/appointment
Make conferring an instructional habit and your students will reap the benefits.