After building my students' writing stamina for 24 days of school, I was finally ready for our first writing conferences. We had actually reached our 20 minutes of independence goal for a few days, but I was putting off conferencing. My students are angels this year. They are as close to PERFECT as children get. To be honest, I could have conferenced the first day of school and my students would have been fine. But we took it slow. I didn't want to rush and regret it weeks down the road. We have been busy filling our writer's notebooks so that student's have a place to find ideas for writing.
After viciously taking notes during writing time for weeks, I decided to take the plunge and confer today.
Why was I so nervous?
Why had I been putting off the meat of the workshop?
Why wasn't I looking forward to conferring during the Writer's Workshop?
The answer lies in my fears as a writer.
If I am not a confident writer, how will I confidently teach writing?
Today I took a risk and decided to confer. Not only did I decide to confer, but I decided to meet with *from my perspective* the student who needed me the most. I could have met with a student who was succeeding in the writing process in order to make myself feel a little bit better, but I am so glad I met with this student first. Here's what the background knowledge:
Student 1 has filled her writing journal with about 7-8 pages of the following:
my cat my dog my frg my cat my dog my frg my cat my dog my frg my cat my dog my fg mycat my
(you get the idea?) Pages and pages of this four words. The pictures did match the words- Student 1 drew pictures of the cat, the dog, and the frog….over and over and over again.
My first thought was, "Where do I start as a teacher of writing?"
I asked myself that question and felt instantly overwhelmed. Not because I didn't know the answer, but because I knew too many answers. How could I pick JUST ONE THING to teach this student during our conference?
Here is what the conference sounded like:
I walked up on the student using their writer's gum to sound out the word cat (Even though it was written on the paper about 15 times already…). I asked the student to read the story. The student read my cat my dog my frog exactly how it looked. I then asked the student to tell me about the story. "The girl has a cat and the cat ran away" Instantly I knew what I was going to teach: "There's a girl in your story? I didn't know there was a girl in your story. I didn't see those words. Can you add those words?" Now I could/should have stopped there, but I couldn't stop there. I then explained that I didn't know the cat ran away because I didn't hear those words. We then counted the words "The cat ran away." and the student wrote those words. HURRAY! I decided to move on to my next conference.
It's not that my students became amazing writer's or that I was an amazing teacher. The reason I am so excited about conferencing is because it was a step in the right direction- AND it was easier than I thought!
My encouragement for you is to get out there and confer!
Just do it!
You have NOTHING to loose- only experience to gain!
Where are you at in the Writer's Workshop process? I would LOVE to know your thoughts!