November 13, 2013
As I conferred with Ava last Wednesday, I was awed by the power of a one-on-one conference. As soon as I sat down, Ava smiled from ear to ear, pulled out the text she had been reading, and said, "I have been working on chunking letters and sounds and I used the sticky notes you gave me to mark some examples. Want to see?" Her enthusiasm made me to smile, and I replied, "I would love to see."
Ava turned to the first page she had marked and pointed out the word breakfast. She modeled how she had chunked br and st to help her with the word. After showing me her second example, I asked Ava to read for me so I could listen. Our session continued, and after setting her learning targets and scheduling her next conference, I walked away and took a moment to reflect.
Before conferring with Ava, I briefly looked at my conferring notebook to refresh my memory and set the purpose for what we would be discussing. Ava, however, did not need the reminder. She had remembered and practiced, and was ready for the next steps of instruction.
In our three-to-five minute sessions, Ava is focused and able to practice and apply new strategies because they directly relate to her current needs as a reader. Although I meet with 28 children and need my conferring notebook to serve as a guide, the students I work with are truly "in the moment." Because each conferring session is tailored to their individual needs, they not only gain new understanding, but remember what they learn. When individual conferences are purposeful and focused, their effectiveness is invaluable.