How To Confer Like A Boss: Note Taking Secrets

Many teachers struggle more with the note taking component of conferring than the actual teaching part of conferring! Taking quality notes is important because it allows you to deliver instruction specifically tailored to each of your students. Of course, there’s also the obvious: it’s nice to have a record of all of your teaching when it comes to report card time, planning future lessons, etc.

Here are my tricks for making note-taking as effective as possible.

Make sure you can view your notes for the entire class on one page.

Without this, it’s a lot harder to form strategy groups. I much prefer seeing what all students need at once so I can split them into groups without leaving someone out by accident.

How annoying is it to confer one-on-one and then realize a little bit later that another student needed instruction on the exact same strategy!? This will help you to save time and be more productive.

How to take effective notes when conferring

I have a big grid where I write all of my notes. I also use super teeny writing in the hopes that I can fit an entire unit’s worth of teaching on the grid. That never happens, but I really like seeing what I worked on throughout a unit with each student.

Use abbreviations when you take notes.

Each abbreviation stands for something I need to know. I always track my observations (O) of a student, the teaching point (TP) I focus on in a given lesson, and any next steps (NS) they may need.

I also like to write how I see students. Is it a small strategy group (SG), guided reading (GR), or shared writing (SW)?

It doesn’t matter what abbreviations you use; they only need to make sense to you.

Color-code your notes. 

This probably sounds daunting if you’re not Type A, but it’s super easy. I get a bunch of flair pens and write everything I do in a day in ONE color (along with the date). The next day, I write in another color.

This is nice because I can see at a quick glance when I met with someone last. I can also say to myself, “Oh, this student only has 2 colors in their box, and some others have 4. It’s time for me to meet with that student.”

I’ve tried using electronic note taking systems, but they just didn’t work for me. They created more work and hassle.

What really is important is for you to find what works for you, but these tips have made note taking SUPER easy, and I can look at my data with minimal brain power to make teaching decisions as easily as possible on the fly.

Is there something about note taking that drives you absolutely crazy? How do you take notes when you confer? Comment below!

If you’re interested in grabbing my conferring toolkit to help you launch writer’s workshop, you can download it HERE or by clicking the picture below. I walk you step-by-step through creating a toolkit and even provide some note-taking templates. You can also snag my bundle for launching reader’s and writer’s workshop for a discounted price HERE.

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