Conferring allows teachers to tailor instruction to individual students by supporting their goals, seeing how they’ve grown, and figuring out what to work on next. As you return for the new school year, prioritizing purposeful and consistent conferring will bring power to the literacy classroom.
As students read and write independently, the teacher will have more time to confer with individuals and small groups. Many teachers find that explicitly teaching students about their roles and the teacher’s role helps the conferring process run smoothly and efficiently, allowing them to work with more students during the literacy period. These roles stay consistent across all types of conferences, even when teachers confer with partnerships or small groups. Students should self-reflect, show what they’ve learned, ask for support, and practice strategies. Teachers should assess strategies and offer new ones or additional support for those still being practiced, give feedback, and guide students.
Conferring is a time when strategies come to life and when teachers have an opportunity to offer feedback tailored to individual students. Education thought leader Grant Wiggins definesas “useful information about the effects of an action in light of a goal.” These “actions” are the strategies students can learn to help them work toward their goals. Feedback can take many forms: Teachers might notice and name what students are already doing, redirect them to try something more goal-aligned, or prompt to coach students along in their practice. Feedback should be clear, descriptive, and immediate.