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A Compliment Conference


In my day-to-day teaching I often get swept up in trying to load students up with next step after next step… after next step. Sometimes, what might benefit some students most, however, is clear explicit feedback on what they are already doing well.

There’s certainly an art to giving clear feedback, especially when it comes to a compliment. There is definitely such a thing as a not-so-great compliment. Has anybody ever told you, “Hey, you look great….today,” leaving you, of course, to wonder about all the other days?

A few days ago, I watched my daughter’s ski instructor compliment the group on zipping their coats. Lily frowned and looked unhappy. I knew what she was thinking. I’m not a baby. Of course I can zip my own coat.  (Of course, sometimes she can’t. She’s five. That’s beside the point.) The point is, compliments aren’t so easy.

Two books are my go-to conferring guides: Carl Anderson’s How’s It Going? and One to One: Conferring with Young Writers by Lucy Calkins, Amanda Hartman, and Zoe Ryder White. Here are some of my favorite tips from my favorite confer-ers, in infographic form. (I made it myself!).

When a compliment helps a writer become aware of a strategy that he or she may not have even realized she was using–that could become the whole conference. A compliment conference. Just lay on the compliment, nice and thick, and let the student keep writing.

Teaching Compliments

BethMooreSchool View All

Literacy Coach, Consultant, Author, Graduate Course Instructor, and Mom. Passionate about fostering a love of reading and writing in learners of all ages.

14 thoughts on “A Compliment Conference Leave a comment

  1. I really loved your compliment points. It is really important to give them feedback especially positive. It helps build their self esteem.


  2. LOVE the graphic on compliments! So so so important in writing conferences AND in life. I got to hear Cornelius Minor on writing recently and he also added connecting what Ss are trying as writers to really seeing them as people. Like, “I see how you are showing your sensitivity to this, and I am starting to see the sensitivi you bring to your friendships too.” (I probably butchered his beautiful words. Here’s a link to a podcast with him.
    He says it better! I’m going to print your graphics and add them to my conferring toolkit! Thank you.


  3. I am committed to using this, and I thank you for the quick icon reminder guide. As writers, we are vulnerable beings. As we are working through revisions with our students, we often praise, but not enough. This blog has truly made me stop and think, so I KNOW I have MAKE time for this type of conversation. Thank you for all that you all do for our students and us!


  4. We all know a genuine compliment affects the release of pleasure hormones in the body, which in turn allows for the student to be open to a teaching point. We should always, always begin any teaching point with a positive, truthful comment.


  5. “I’ve noticed that you’re the kind of writer who…” I love this post and the visual reminders. I agree that there is an art to conferring and giving feedback. I love this prompt to help me get started on a compliment, it’s going to make my writers feel so important and like an individual.


  6. I love your last slide where you ask the student to think or search for at least one other place in their writing where they applied the writing strategy! I will definitely need to remember to ask my students this. Thank you again for another quick writing post that offers so many possibilities to improve our students writing 🙂


  7. I love the way your compliments point to specific things the child has done this time, and agree that this will encourage them to transfer that skill and do it again. This helps me be more specific with my compliments! 😉

    I agree that we need to be giving lots of compliments. I find that if I don’t mix lots of compliments in with my teaching certain kids get hung up on the fact that I am always correcting (i.e. I can’t do it unless my teacher tells me what to do.)


  8. Love the Piktochart! Thanks for the reminder to be specific in positive feedback as well. This is a perfect followup after listening to Grant Wiggins explain the difference between feedback, evaluation, and advice. 🙂


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