Communication with parents is important but did you know that student-teacher communication is just as important? Part of effective communication is just sitting down one-on-one with each of your students (I know, seems daunting doesn’t it?)…what this looks up will depend on the age of your students and what the structure of your day looks like.
With my primary grades, I would pull students over during my Writer’s Workshop & during benchmark assessments to have mini-converences. Having this time not only allowed me to assess their work, but to also teach them how to self-evaluate. We would look at their writing together and go over where they were at, and what they needed to work on to get to where they needed to go…together. I also made sure to spend a couple minutes just talking with them. I saw each student 2-3 times a week in this setting (other times were in groups) but it was just enough time to build trust with my students that paid off exponentially.
In intermediate levels, I am still working on establishing this time with my students. Again, I conference with them individually during writing time but I would like to integrate more of this during other times of the day as well. By giving my full-attention to each student for a few minutes several times a week, what I am communicating to them is that they MATTER! Who doesn’t like to feel that they matter to someone?! This also gives me an opportunity to differentiate and show them how learning isn’t about a right or wrong answer…it’s about the process of improving and getting better.
In all grade levels I make sure to “conference” or check-in with my whole class at the beginning of the day. I know this is common in the lower grades but why has it seen a decline in the upper grades? I find when I take time to gather close with my students & talk about current events, go over our goals for the day, and even do a little “check-in” with how each student is feeling (I ask them to use one word to describe how they are feeling–you’d be amazed at the descriptive words they come up with!) and just ask them questions, my students take ownership in their day and begin to communicate with each other and myself more effectively.
What do I use to keep notes on my conferences? I like to use just a notebook, a fun pencil, some post-it flags, & post-it notes to record on. SIMPLE. EASY. I divide my notebook into sections (one for each student) and take my notes on the pages (don’t forget to date them!). If you don’t have a system yet, try mine out! 🙂
How do you “conference” with your students?