In my ESL pull-out class my students come in and find a comfortable spot for read to self, which lasts for 20 minutes. For the most part, and this is always interesting to me, they choose the same place day in and day out: sitting on a table, crouched under the sink, sprawled between two tables, sitting at tables or sitting in a chair near the window.
Read to self is a perfect time for one-on-one conferences. But I am often conflicted because I don’t want to interrupt my students’ reading. After all, I don’t like being interrupted when I’m reading a good book. Yet, I understand that time is precious, especially the one hour I have with my students, four days/week. Still, I wonder if I should let my students read without interrupting them? Or should I use this time to touch bases with them about their reading? For some of my students, this may be the only time that anyone talks to them about what they’re reading. So, I need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Today, I started conferring again, without any second guessing. I had two conferences during the 20 minutes, which actually became 25 minutes because I lost track of the time. Although that translates to two long conferences, it’s OK for now. I need to find my rhythm again. I hadn’t touched bases with any of my students for a few weeks, at least not in one-on-one conferences, and I needed to feel comfortable again. Find my groove, so to speak. I will create a format for these conferences that will give me the information I need to better teach my ESL students. I’m working on that now.
One possible format might look like this:
First, the student reads a little bit of his/her book aloud.
Then, we talk about what’s happening in the book, who the characters are, and what may happen next. Other topics will come up naturally depending on the book and the student.
Next, I may ask what kind of help s/he needs to read this book.
Finally, we make a plan for finishing the book (my students are non-finishers and reluctant readers, for the most part), and think about what s/he could read next.
What we discuss at the next conference will be determined, in part, by how the previous one went.
So, there you have it! A tentative plan for one-on-one conferences. I will come back to this topic at a later date to reflect on how it’s going.