Responding to Student Writing & Conferencing

How do we reconcile these two disparate ideas of one-on-one writing conferences?

One approach is by being sensitive to the psychology of the conference. Sure, conferences complement the scaffolded process of pre-writing, drafting, receiving feedback, and revising. But, perhaps more importantly, conferences complement the provision of appropriate guidance with good listening skills and encouraging comments.

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Conferences respond directly to the needs of students. They allow teachers to get to know their students as writers and allow students to know their teachers as people who care about their writing. Fostering contact with students demonstrates your interest in their work. Youre providing a responsive audience and individualized instruction. Students are encouraged when they know someone cares enough to read, respond to, and talk about what they write.

So, how does this differ from other methods of responding to student writing, like marginal comments or end notes?

Scheduling conferences may be demanding, but I think doing so is a much more efficient way to help students understand the revision process than just marking up their essays simply because of the one-on-one attention.

But this benefit may also pose a challenge. I think the biggest challenge I will face in directing individual writing conferences is getting my students to take an active part in the conference itself. It has something to do with personal experience. In fact, I was once the student intimidated by the very idea of meeting alone with a teacher and having that teachers complete attention.

As a sophomore studying English literature at the University of Florida, I enrolled in a class on Victorian literature. The class was taught by a Ph.D. candidate who positioned herself cross-legged on top of a table when leading class discussions. She asked us to call her Rachel. Her class was the first in which I was required to participate in mandatory writing conferences.

I showed up with my rough draft, but that was the extent of my active participation. I was willing to let Rachel dominate the discussion. And she did; that is, until she paused to remind me that this is a place for me to express my concerns. But I was still too shy. So, she asked me to talk about my draft and my writing process, and she reassured me that the problems I was encountering we're common problems that all students have in their first drafts.

What I learned from my own experience is that as soon as students realize that the direction of the conferences belong to them, rather than to the teacher, they will be more comfortable meeting and talking about their work. I want to encourage my students the same way Rachel encouraged me, which brings me to my goal for this week.

My goal for this week is to demonstrate my understanding of the best approaches to responding to student writing in assigned readings in personal experiences by writing a teaching reference guide on directing individual writing conferences for my teaching e-portfolio.

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 03/07/2017


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