Hearing from the presenting teacher
- The facilitator invites the presenting teacher to speak.
- The presenting teacher provides his or her perspective on the student’s
work, describing what s/he sees in it, responding (if s/he chooses)
to one or more of the questions raised, and adding any other information
that s/he feels is important to share with the group.
- The presenting teacher also comments on anything surprising or unexpected
that s/he heard during the describing, questioning and speculating
n the second part of the conference, the focus broadens. Having concentrated intensively on the piece itself, the group, in conversation with the presenting teacher, now considers the conditions under which the work was created as well as broader issues of teaching and learning.
First, the presenting teacher provides any information that she thinks is relevant about the context for the work. This might include describing the assignment, responding to the discussion, answering questions raised in the first part of the conference (though the presenting teacher can choose which of those questions to respond to), describing other work by the child, and/or commenting on how her own reading or observation of the work compares to that of the group's.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Facilitator: In step 5, Brenda's going to tell us something about the context for the work and about Michael, and she's going to provide her perspective on the student's work. She's going to describe what she sees in it after listening to us. She's going to respond maybe to some of the questions we raise because they're important for her, and she's going to add any other information she feels is important. The reason she's doing all this isn't to defend or explain or even to clarify, the main reason is to identify the seminal issue of teaching and learning for her to open it up to the whole group to talk about.
Brenda: Okay, I brought this piece of work to the conference because it was upsetting to me, the result of this student's work was very upsetting to me. Writing is something that is very important to me, and I felt that with all the writing activities this year this student did not live up to my expectations.
To give you some background regarding the work, the prompt was not mine--I had no say in it. It was given to us as an assessment piece, and we have to use it just the way it is. The problem for the child was to write a story about the best thing that ever happened to him. Begin the story with, "Let me tell you about the best thing that happened to me," so he had no choice.
Miguel is a nine year old whose parents are Latino, but both are fluent in English. Both languages are used at home, and Michael has never received instruction in Spanish.
This particular test is intended to assess the students' writing ability and required skills. It was taken by the same group of third graders so he has been along with me... So needless to say I was very disappointed because you saw things in here that honestly I didn't see. Correct grammar, I was looking for that. I was looking for purpose. I was looking for sentence structure, punctuation, correct spelling. Those are some of the things that you all saw that weren't there when I read the whole piece.
My concern, my question, my dilemma all wrapped up in one--I am truly passionate about this, this really drove me insane the entire school year--is how do I enable my students to become better writers? And I know that is connected with their reading ability, as well.
Facilitator: Brenda, I don't want to interrupt. I just want to point out you said we really stirred some stuff for you, and we have about 20 minutes to get into a conversation with you to find out what you want to talk about.
Brenda: Okay, when I said you stirred some stuff up for me as I listened to you I meant you saw things in there that I didn't see, and that made me feel good because this was very stressful for me. I expected "A" work; I have high expectations for my students, and the best that I could have given him is a proficient. "A" is advanced and "P" is proficient for Title 1 assessment, that's what we have to use.