I’ve been struggling with some neck pain for a little over a year. Several weeks ago I finally went to see my doctor about it. As I was waiting for him to enter my exam room, I was thinking about conferring with our students. Weird, I know, but follow my line of thinking here. I heard my doctor in the room next door and knew he would be coming to my room next. I heard the door close, but it was several minutes before he came into my room. Why? You know the answer—he was taking notes about his previous patient. Conferring notes!
Think about what doctors do when they meet with their patients:
- Research: They ask questions and run diagnostic tests.
- Decide: Based on their research, they make decisions.
- Treat: They prescribe a course of action—medication, surgery, physical therapy, etc.
Then what do they do? They follow up by seeing their patients in X number of days/weeks to see how things are progressing. They do some more researching, deciding, and possibly more treating.
Does this sound familiar to what teachers do during a reading/writing conference? We:
- Research: Ask our students questions, administer formal and informal diagnostic assessments.
- Decide: Based on our research, we make decisions about what to compliment and what/how to teach.
- Teach: We teach the reader/writer a strategy through demonstration, explanation, examples, or guided practice.
Now, let’s go back to those conferring notes. My last post dealt with whether or not conferring notes are necessary. If you read that post, you know my opinion on the matter.
Let me ask you a few questions.
- Is it important for your doctor to keep conferring (exam) records?
- Do you appreciate the doctors that remember what you talked about at your last visit?
- Do you think doctors really remember trivia about your job or family, or did they just take some good notes to jog their memories and develop a relationship with you?
- Does it annoy you when a doctor doesn’t keep good records or fails to read what s/he wrote last time and keeps asking you the same questions over and over again?
- Do you feel valued as a patient/person when each visit seems like you are explaining your situation again as if for the first time?
What implication does this have for our classrooms? What if we thought of our students as our little patients and if each time we met with them we were researching, deciding, and teaching them to be the healthiest readers and writers they can be?