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How To Confer Like A Boss: Classroom Management Magic




How often do you feel like you’re interrupted when you confer? How often do you notice that your students start to get off task--even if they AREN’T distracting others--when you’re teaching small groups? 

This is going to happen from time to time, but these tips can help you minimize off-task behavior and maximize learning when you confer.

1. Walk around the room before conferring.

Make sure everyone is settled and working independently before pulling your small groups. Your proximity here is important. It's OK if it takes a few minutes.

2. Hold small group instruction in a place that allows you to see the whole room.

This is important for you and for students. When students know they can be seen, they are less likely to get distracted. It’s not that students want to misbehave or not learn—it’s just a simple fact of human nature! Don’t you focus less when you sit in the back of your faculty meetings? I know I do!! Use eye contact to your advantage when your students need it.

3. Walk around the room while conferring.

This might mean doing a quick walk-around between each small group lesson or, if your class is having a rough time, it might even be a quick walk-around during the active engagement  portion of your lesson. 

You still need to be present and coaching during the active engagement, but just 10 or 20 seconds of walking around can make a big difference.

4. Teach behavioral expectations.

If a student isn’t on task when you meet with small groups, it’s possible because they need to be taught how to meet your expectations. Every teacher has different expectations, and we all respond to off-task behaviors differently too! Set your students up for success by teaching them what to do.

5. Get some movement into your workshop period.

When stamina starts to get low, I stop my workshop period all together. You might do a quick brain break or use a mid-workshop interruption. 

Mid-workshop interruptions are your friend. You might pull the students to the carpet or whole group teaching area, quickly teach them something (I’m talking a 1 minute think-aloud or 3 minutes of highlighting a skill in a mentor text), and then send them back to work independently. 

Those few minutes makes a huge difference. People need breaks.

6. Move students’ seats if they need more support.

Whether your student is prone distracting the class or simply prone to quietly producing less work, move his or her seat to be in a more productive spot. It doesn’t need to be permanent.

I often had my reluctant writers write right next to me or just a little bit to the side of me while I was conferring or working in a small group. If they overhear your lesson, it won’t hurt them. In fact, it may arm them with more strategies to use when they are working. Then, when your students in the small group are working on the active engagement portion of the lesson, you can check in and see how things are going with your reluctant writer.

7. Use timers for students who need it.

I really like time timers because they show the passing of time without counting down the seconds, which can be really distracting. You can read a blog post I wrote all about this HERE


8. Have a your small group materials and lessons ready before teaching.

Have a toolkit created with all of the materials you'll need for your small group lessons. When your materials are all ready ahead of time, you won't need to do the heavy lifting of creating small group lessons during your actual workshop period. This will allow you to be more mentally present with your class since you won't have to focus on lesson planning.

Toolkits take a lot of time to make, but they are totally worth it! I urge you to make one. Every time you teach a small group lesson, save the resources you use for it! You'll use them again in another day, week, month, or year, I promise!!!


If you don’t want to spend time making one, you can download my toolkit bundle for launching reader’s and writer’s workshop! Grab both toolkits for a discounted price by clicking HERE or on the picture below. These toolkits highlights important reading and writing behaviors and partnership skills to make classroom management easier for you during your literacy blocks!



How do you hold down the fort when you confer? Are there any classroom management issues that you experience make you want to pull your hair out? We've all been there! Comment below!!


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1 comment

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