Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Some good ideas on conferencing, courtesy of Choice Literacy.

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
February 20, 2016 - Issue #490
If you are having trouble reading this newsletter, click here for a Web-based version.
Act the Way You Want to Feel

We won’t make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people’s habits, even the habits of geniuses; we must know our own nature, and what habits serve us best.

                                                                         Gretchen Rubin

When I got married, my mom gave me a piece of advice that I have never forgotten: Act the way you want to feel. She explained, if you want to feel loving toward your husband, act loving toward him. As I was happily preparing for my wedding, I couldn’t imagine a time that I would ever not feel loving toward my husband, but I stored the advice away. I soon discovered that as much as I love my husband, I don’t always feel that way 24 hours a day. The small irritations--a task left undone, a toilet seat left up--as well as the big annoyances--a disagreement over a bathroom remodeling project--can sometimes put a damper on my affection. Whenever I find myself hanging on to those negative feelings, I always return to my mom’s advice: Act the way you want to feel. And it really does work; your behavior changes your attitude. It’s really hard to feel annoyed with my husband when I’m giving him a warm hug.

I was recently reading Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin when I came across this sentence: “It’s easy to assume that we act because of the way we feel, but to a great degree, we feel because of the way we act.” Here was my mom’s old advice in a different context. I had always applied it to my marriage, but it got me thinking about how it could apply to my habits at work.

At the beginning of the school year, I had made a goal to make a regular habit of conferring with my high school students about their reading. I scheduled conference days into my plan book as a way to ensure that I made the time to talk with my students and it worked great! I felt so empowered by this new habit--conferring was making me more connected to my students and more in tune with their reading successes and struggles.

Then other things started getting in the way--projects that needed more time, unexpected schedule changes, and snow days. By midterm, I had fallen off the wagon with conferring. It had happened gradually, but finally one of my students asked, “When are you going to have time to talk to us about our books again?”

I knew something had to be done. I was feeling defeated and, worst of all, disconnected from my students. That’s when I applied my mom’s advice. If I want to feel more connected to students, I need to act connected to students--it’s nearly impossible to feel disconnected from a student when I am talking with him one-on-one. This small, simple shift in perspective gave me the push I needed to make time for conferring once again. What I’ve come to realize is that “act the way you want to feel” is a way of preventing negative feelings from robbing you of the positive experiences in life, whatever the context may be.

This week we look at notetaking in writing conferences. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Gretchen Schroeder
Contributor, Choice Literacy

Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Mandy Robek shares how she has revised the records she keeps during writing conferences:
With more than 75% of students receiving extra support in a high-need district, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan struggled to find tools to help teachers collaborate around student needs. Enter the personal conferring notebook, a terrific vehicle for teachers to record insights about students working with multiple teachers and specialists:

Ruth Ayres asks, Is Writing Essential? Her answer might surprise you:

Ruth explores the basics of writing workshops in her latest online course, beginning on March 2. The course includes three webcasts, a DVD, a book, videos, print resources, and personal responses from Ruth. For details and registration information, click on the link below:

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