I’m reminded of author Frank Herbert’s advice, “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story,” as I begin the third and final installment of the writing conference blog series. This won’t be the last time I address conferences, but it’s the end of the series highlighting conference challenges teachers face.
So far I’ve shared tips on how to combat the challenge of the old-fashioned English teacher mindset and what do to when you’re not exactly sure what to conference about. Let’s take a look at tips for when your class gets too loud on conference days.
Class is Disruptive During Conference Time
Solution — Re-Teach Routines & Display Guidelines
Inappropriate behavior need not interrupt conferencing time. The early WriteSteps lessons are intentionally short to allow time for establishing expectations and classroom management techniques. If you’re dealing with interruptions, noise, etc. after beginning formal conferencing, use our Self Reflection Checklist. It provides 14 tips to help teachers prepare lessons, materials, and behavioral expectations. Be consistent.
Tip: Be sure students know what to do when they finish writing. Some teachers allow students to get up and get a book; others do not want them walking around. Whatever you decide, be clear. Display your class expectations using the What to Do When I’m Done Writing poster to support good classroom management.
Tip: Be sure to teach students how to proceed when they don’t know how to spell a word. Practice “stretching out” words to hear the sounds, and reinforce using the word wall on the WriteSteps Privacy Folder. These habits will save you and your students much time! Once you’ve established them, your students will be comfortable not knowing how to spell everything right away. Spelling can be corrected in the editing stage.
Tip: Don’t stretch your class’s capacities by overdoing it. Limit yourself to 3 students during a formal conferencing period (6 if you are teaching kindergarten). Know in advance who you will be meeting with that day, and post their names on the Today I’m Having Writing Conferences With poster so students will be ready.
In conferences, we are coach and cheerleader. Our playbook includes not only lessons, but also valuable resources such as a list of the standards taught so far (focus skills), record-keeping tools, and management posters. These resources, and the practices outlined above, will empower your students to play — and write — like stars!