How to conference with students!
Conferring with students can be a challenge in many classrooms. Especially if the basic structure of guided math is not in place. Students are creatures of habit. They crave routine, and will follow what you set up as the routine. This means if they interrupt you once, and you allow it, they will interrupt you again, and again. This is why it is important to set up a guided math routine much like you’d set it up for guided reading.
In order to conference with students you need to have a good understanding of what is happening in your classroom. I like to watch what my students are engaged in and see if I can trouble shoot any potential problems BEFORE I start conferencing. While I do this I may take anecdotal notes. I am developing a guided math notebook where I keep detailed information on student progress.
I discover my students’ mathematical thinking by observation and conversation. I like to look at what they have mastered and ask them questions. (I plan to add an interactive notebook/math journal component to this years teaching.) If the student has the ability to teach the concept, they have achieved mastery. If they are struggling, I need to look at where they need support. I need to carefully question and provide only enough support for them to understand on their own.. Maybe they just need a reminder of a strategy that was taught. Whatever I do I need to share knowledge with the learner, not force feed a formula. Students need to be thought of as partners in the learning process.
Laney Sammons suggests:
1. Research student understanding
2. Decide what is needed
3. Teach to student needs
4. Link to future
I think it is important to recognize what the student has learned and remind them of this. Not only does it help to link the mathematical processes together it builds confidence.
I made a quick guided math binder to track my student conferences! I plan to run the student sheets front/back. That way if I take anecdotal notes on post its, I can simply stick them on the back. Another way to take notes is to use labels. Those stay put when stuck on the back of the page. I know sometimes my post its go astray!!
You can grab it here!
I hope to conference with my students once a week. I honestly do not know how many students I will be working with, what their needs are, and what other support I will have in the classroom. I’d like to conference more frequently, but I am not sure that is realistic. Between teaching small groups, providing enVision lessons, and conferencing I think it will be a challenge.to meet weekly. I hope to be able to revisit this topic once school has started in the fall and show everyone how things are working (or not working) in my classroom!