This post marks the end of a blog chat based on "Conferring" by Patrick Allen. This chat - hosted by Laura of Our Camp Read-A-Lot, Jill of My Primary Passion, and Cathy from Reflect & Refine has been a new and very rewarding experience for me. I've enjoyed the discussion and hope that even though the official blog chat will have ended we can continue the #CyberPD conversation in the days to come.
That's as far as I got before the lake beckoned! Now we're back home in Iowa with another week at the lake behind us. This point marks the time when I start thinking and planning in earnest for the year ahead. I love the long days of summer but as they inevitably come to a close I am looking forward to a new start in my classroom. I will be dedicating more time to conferring this year. I know there will be challenges but Patrick Allen has convinced me that even though "Conferring Ain't Easy" it is definitely worth the hard work. I am ready to begin - though there's a lot that must happen in the meantime!
Allen devotes Chapter 6 to "Conferring Walk-Aways". These are "the tools or strategies used or discovered as students navigate text and develop the capacity for independence". The list of observed walk-aways is impressive. I agree that "if teachers are able to identify walk-aways, notice the language they are using during conferences, and think about classroom implications for themselves and their students, they can better understand that conferring is indeed a keystone of instruction". I enjoyed the reading conference transcripts - especially Allen's record of his own metacognition.
In the latter portion of Chapter 6 Allen makes some very important points as he discusses David Elkind's words from "Miseducation" and how "education is not a race". This really struck me - "When students leave my classroom and another teacher is in my stead, my hope is that students will remember that learning is not a race. It is learning for a lifetime". I have very vivid memories of my years in elementary school. Education was always a race in my mind. It saddens me that I do not remember a single conferring conversation with a teacher until I was at the college level. After spending my first grade year reading "Dick & Jane" my school adopted "programmed reading". I still remember the stories in these independent readers but I primarily remember reading as fast as I could so that no one would pass my level of progress. (I also developed migraine headaches during my second grade year - the satisfaction of being the fastest reader evidently came at a price!) Although my teacher certainly didn't promote "programmed reading" time as a competition that was my interpretation. I do remember her frustration when several of us finished the books designated for Grade 2! I wasn't exactly hurt by the reading instruction (or lack thereof) during my formative years but many of my classmates can't say the same. I can't help but think what a difference it would have made if I could say that "Every time my teacher sat down next to me, he took the time to listen to my thinking. It mattered."
There is so much more that I could write but I am anxious to read everyone's posts and prepare for more #CyberPD conversation. I'm excited about the upcoming twitter chat with Patrick Allen and disappointed that a family obligation may prevent me from participating. Hopefully I can discreetly check in from my phone!