As literacy coach, I mostly work with teachers to improve their instruction of reading and writing. Now, as the school year ends, I have had the opportunity to return a bit to that which motivated my interest in coaching to begin with: conferencing with students.
Today in 5th grade a student asked me to do the final edit on his memoir. I agreed. We sat together and discussed a few key words, some grammar points and the structure of a memoir. When we arrived at the importance of the story, he spoke of having learned that with support he can achieve any goal. I told him to never forget that lesson. We spoke of his going to 6th grade, his future and his enduring learnings.
As we finished our conference he leans over, pats me on the shoulder and says, “Thank you for the life lesson, Mr. Fleming.” I smiled, thinking he was joking. He wasn’t.
Life lesson. That is education and it so much more important than the key words and the grammar points.
I was co-teaching in a 5th grade writer’s workshop today; we are working on memoirs. I overheard a student tell the teacher, “I don’t want to work with Mr. Fleming. He corrects me too much.”
That got me wondering, am I offering too many corrections? In my conversation with the student we reviewed the difference between a story and a memoir; she understood well the concept. Then I asked her, “What could you add to your conclusion to…” and before I finished she answered, “I need to tell how I learned that lesson when that event happened.”
“Yes!” I replied.
“Should I mention that learning at the beginning so the reader knows where I am headed?” Clearly she had overheard my previous conversations.
“Yes. Go to it.”
So, I don’t think I offered too many corrections. I believe that she evaluated her work and found a few holes in her writing on her own. I confirmed her evaluation and sent her on her way. The problem was that she did not want to make the additions. But that’s OK, I have yet to meet a 5th grader who likes to make corrections (and I haven’t met too many adults who like to make corrections either).