I’ve noticed something when I sit in classrooms and watch teachers confer with kids. Often times they forget to comment the child. They go straight from investigating what the writer is working on straight to instruction. When I ask, “What was the compliment you gave the child?” I often get a sheepish look. There’s a pause and then I hear something like, “I didn’t,” or “I forgot.” It’s easy to forget to compliment a student writer when you know you have a limited time to plow through five – seven conferences during independent writing time. I get it. I’ve been there, especially when I taught 32 fifth graders!
I would like to give a gentle reminder today as you head off to school today. Take the time to compliment every child. Make it genuine. Compliment them in a traditional writing conference, a strategic writing conference, a mentor text conference, or a coaching conference. A sincere compliment will build a young writer’s self-esteem. Plus, it will make the student more receptive to what you’re going to teach them in the conference.