The first thing that struck me was that while I don't consciously have any of the "counterfeit beliefs" about conferring now, I have had issues with some of them in the past. The items from the list that caused me to rethink my conferring plans were:
If I don't meet with every student every day, I'm not doing a good job.I feel like conferring or any type of one-on-one instructional interaction with students is among the best practices in education. I know that I can't meet with every student every day but I still want to (even in the face of increasing class size). So since I use conferring in reading, writing and math I try to confer with different students in each content area each day. I still don't meet with every student every day but at the end of the day I have conferred with a significant number of students. Those personal interactions are important to the students so while I don't worry about the number of minutes or number of times I meet with a student each day or week. I do need to make sure that I am at least checking in with each student frequently so that they feel like a valued member of our learning community.
I need to confer with every student the same number of times for the same amount of time each week.
The other part of this first section of the book that caused me to really stop and think was the chapter on building an environment for conferring. I think all of the ashlars (pillars of support) that Patrick Allen mentions in this chapter are very important. He asked us to consider what our own ashlars would be and I think that I would add asking students to learn about what others are passionate about or what strengths others have. I think knowing this really encourages deeper understanding of the idea that we are all different types of learners and readers. It also helps them be able to have conversations with each other about the kinds of reading that they are doing and why they are making the choices they are making. This could probably fit in with Patrick's first ashlar of having a sense of trust, respect and tone, but I also think it is important enough that it could be separated out.
I am really looking forward to reading Part 2 of the book about components of conferring. The content of my conferences is where I really need to do some thinking, refining and revising.
This week's Blog Bookchat is being hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community so you should head on over there to join the conversation.
The schedule for the rest of the Blog Bookchat is:
Part 2: What are the Essential Components of Conferring?
Hosted by me at My Primary Passion
Part 3: What Emerges from Our Reading Conferences?
Hosted by Laura Komos at Camp Read-A-Lot
This will be a conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD