I know. I know. It's not Saturday. I'm sneaking this in today, because tomorrow is a special blogging day for me. I'd love for you to come back and see why.
I wonder if anyone else out there will agree that conferring is the hardest part of writer's workshop. I've decided it's an art form, that for some of us, simply takes a lot of practice. Good thing we write every day in first grade. I've got a plethora of opportunities to get better at this.
I'll admit that when I first read Regie's words I wasn't exactly sure what she meant. It wasn't until I coupled it with Lucy Calkins' ideas from The Art of Teaching Writing that the lightbulb came on.
We are teaching the writer and not the writing. Our decisions must be guided by "what might help this writer" rather than "what might help this writing." If the piece of writing gets better but the writer has learned nothing that will help him or her another day on another piece, then the conference was a waste of everyone's time. (228)
So if I say, "I love the way you used sound effects in your writing" I have pretty much helped the writing, since not every piece the child writes will benefit from sound effects. On the other hand, if I say, "I love the way you used sound effects to create details that will help your reader better picture what's going on in your story" I have helped the writer. The trick when conferring is making the teaching point transferrable to the writer's life no matter the day or the piece they're working on. Let me just say...easier said than done, but it's a goal worthy of my time.