I had a short conference with every single one of my biology students yesterday. This is something that I would like to do at least once a week, although I'm not sure at this time if I can make it happen. I don't want this to be a year where there are kids who can "hide," either by not speaking up during class...or just by doing okay - good work and behavior, therefore calling no attention to themselves.
Our conversations were brief, as you might imagine. But even 20 - 30 seconds of eye contact and some personal attention is a start. Every kid got a bit of an "atta boy/girl" about something good that they'd written. Some kids who had questions, but didn't want to ask in front of the class were able to receive some one-on-one guidance. It felt really good.
Why haven't I done much of this before? I think part of it was not being clear in my own mind about what I wanted to see kids do in terms of a targeted standard, and another part has just been learning a few protocols and questioning techniques to make those brief conferences more meaningful for both parties. It isn't that in the past that I didn't help kids or generally circulate while students were working; it's just a simple change in priorities. I won't wait until they raise their hands. It's all out in the open: they need to see that I'm learning from them, too.