Five Words to Get You Started with Conferring

Learning to Confer

What is the hardest thing about teaching writing?  Conferring.

What is the most important thing about teaching writing?  Conferring.

As I coach teachers who are new to the workshop model, I sense their hesitation to confer one-on-one with students.  Their list of worries is long, and I know learning to confer is an art form.  If you are new to writing workshop, here is a tip to get you started quickly with conferring:  Listen to the writer talk about his or her writing, and then say, “One thing writers do is…”

These five words have saved many writing conferences.  These words:

  • help make the teaching point clear to both teacher and student
  • can prevent your conference from turning into an editing session
  • remind us to teach the writer, not the writing

One thing writers do is write words to match their pictures.

One thing writers do is organize their writing using paragraphs.

One thing writers do is write a thesis statement.

One thing writers do is use their notebook to play with an idea.

As I coach teachers who are just learning to confer, I tell them to keep these five words in their back pocket.