#SOL19: Day 28 SOLSC

Four days left.

Four more posts.

Four more ideas.

Four more slices.

Why does it feel so different?

The pressure to have a story.

The pressure to not have a bandaid.

The pressure is real.

The pressure for students is real.

The pressure for teachers is real.

Is it self-inflicted?

What’s the solution?

Yesterday was amazing.

Our Heinemann reps have established a #ConnectandCollaborate group and provided support requested by local teachers, coaches, and administrators.  Yesterday we, groups in Iowa, Missouri and South Carolina heard answers from our questions posed to Lucy Calkins about coaching.

How do teachers step into conferring?

First task:  Set up the Environment


  • “Do no harm.”


Lucy reminded us that, “You will be conferring all your life. It helps to put yourself in the writer’s shoes.”  Consider when has someone’s feedback left you scarred for life?  “Don’t do that.”  Kids will be vulnerable.

How much does it mean to you to get a real compliment? A real authentic response from a peer or an administrator; not a judgement. “Do that!”

Teachers have power. We can make kids want to put words on the page.  Make sure you are responding in a human way. Warm. Human. Don Murray said, ”Be the kind of person for whom kids want to write.” Respond in human way to the content. When you are headed for radical change, do NOT criticize. Do NOT point out all the things they screwed up.

Second task:  Check your Posture

Are you sitting side by side?

The student holds the paper. The student writes on his/her paper. The goal of the teacher is to get students to say more with little tips to keep them writing:  “Holy Moley, what happened next?”“Wow!  Look what you have written in 5 minutes.” All of this is setting up the backdrop because in order to respond to writers, you have to set a climate where students want to and DO write!

BEGIN by Studying Conferring

  1. Read the guide about the predictable parts of  a conference
  2. Watch the Videos:  Amanda and Lucy
  3. Identify and Practice the Conference Parts

Don’t expect perfection. Plan to grow and learn. Check out the suggested problems in the “If…Then…Curriculum resource online.  Have those solutions ready. Talk about the common issues.


Thank you Beth, Kelly, and Kerry (Lisa and Ashley) for setting up this Zoom opportunity.

What did you learn yesterday?

How will your passion and excitement carry your learning forward? 

How will you build on your own “I can . . .”?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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12 responses

  1. We are all feeling the pressure as the month winds down. I think that pressure puts us in students’ shoes. Responding to posts is good conferring training too, I think. I love the narrative you wrote here..the do’s and do not’s. All important to remember as writers and readers and responders.

    1. Diane,
      So true. Application for how we treat friends, neighbors, and relatives as well as students! Thinking before we respond is a GREAT idea!

  2. You speak truths here, Fran! It’s much like running a distance race. Sometimes the closer you get to the finish line, the more doubt creeps in. But then, you can see the finish line and believe conquers doubt and you finish! Thanks for sharing!

    1. YES, not a sprint but running a distance. Having a plan, and sticking to it when the doubt and “trouble” hits. Love that connection!

  3. There is such an art to conferring, the more I read about what can be done, the more I realise how little I know!! Thank you for adding yet more tips to my list!

    1. Yes, so many layers to conferring well. I feel like such a novice!!! You are welcome!

  4. We can do this! Only 3 more posts! I love the Donald Murray quote, ”Be the kind of person for whom kids want to write.” I can feel the energy in my students when they feel this. Their question is “What are we going to write today?” They are ready because they know their voices are valuable.

    1. Margaret,
      I loved that quote as well. So many “pre-conferring” factors like the classroom environment and community, teacher beliefs, teacher knowledge . . .

  5. So many of us are striving to find something to write about in these last few days that will not make it seem that we are just filling spaces with words just to say we have written every day. “Teachers have power.” How true and we must learn how to used it effectively and not abuse it.

    1. We can be kind and share our power with students! ❤

  6. I was part of that conference call from Missouri! Learned so much (as always), but what really stuck with me was when Lucy said we don’t have time to do it all—such truth! Thanks for capturing this part of the discussion here!

    1. Sarah,
      So true that there isn’t time and always learning! It is complicated! ❤

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