Conferring with Readers

I worked with a group of teachers today around reading conferences.  We talked about the wide variety of conferences that happen in our classrooms.  We all have the classic Research-Decide-Teach conference structure in our repertoire, but the reality of classroom life is that not every conference follows that format.  We decided to make a list of the types of conferences we actually conduct with our students.

  1. Classic Research-Decide-Teach conference
  2. Compliment Conference: in this conference we do the research portion of the classic conference.  We explore what they’re doing as readers.  Then we identify one thing to compliment.  We look for one strategy or skill that we want the child to continue to use and we highlight it and compliment the child.  Then we walk away, leaving the child on a high note.  This conference practically guarantees that the child will continue to do that particular strategy and will solidify it into their repertoire.
  3. Assessment Conference: here we spend our time gathering information on the child.  We’re not researching in the same way as the classic research.  We might be taking a running record on a child.  We might be talking through a reading inventory or a survey.  We might be running through a quick check on sight words or phonics skills with younger readers.  We assess, record data, and thank the child.
  4. Tip Conference: this conference may include the research component,  but then offers the child a quick tip that they can implement immediately. It is not as specific or weighty as a teaching point.  But it is actionable and immediate for the child.
  5. Coaching Conference:  This is an opportunity to coach a student through the execution of a process that we’ve already taught them.  We work on transfer and independence by building success.
  6. Pre-researched Teach Conference: this is probably my oldest standby.  I would take data from assessments such as the F&P, and I have pre-determined what I need to teach this child.  I don’t invest my conference time in research, I use the information from the assessments.  I spend the time in the conference on teaching and coaching the student on the skill that I’ve selected.