Writer-Teacher Conferences


Two weeks ago, I conducted 18 parent-teacher conferences over the course of three days. Intense, but crucial. Conferences are a great opportunity to share a child’s progress with parents, and to talk about the  next steps in the child’s development. We go over the report card and I show evidence of their learning, like journal entries or math tests.

I started to think: I wish there were such things as writer-teacher conferences, or writer-mentor conferences. Of course if you pay for a class, or go to a workshop, you can participate in a mini-experience like this. But how amazing would it be to have an ongoing relationship with a writing mentor, who discussed your progress and next steps with you every few months?

It’s a pipe dream for sure, but let me pretend. A writer would mysteriously have a (free)  mentor, who reads their ongoing work and offers comments. So far, like beta readers or CPs, right? But every few months, you would meet formally, and your mentor gives you some kind of writing report card. Not intimidating (who needs that? Writers deal with enough rejection as it is!), but a friendly checklist broken down into discrete skills, along with evidence of learning.

For example, maybe there would be a section for characterization. I could be evaluated on using dialogue to build character, showing body language, or physical descriptions. My mentor could show me example of when I used the techniques effectively, and some other examples of my writing that could be improved. We could talk about how to improve them.

Man, this could take hours. Hey, it’s my fantasy. There would be lots of coffee and chocolate involved, that’s for sure. And my mentor would be kind, knowledgeable, empathetic, and wise. And love helping me, of course.

Anyone want to mentor me?


5 responses to “Writer-Teacher Conferences

  1. I love the mentor idea, although the problem is where to find someone willing to go to that level of commitment for free? If you’re serious about it though, you might be able to find someone on Scrib willing to mentor you.

    • No, I think it’s just a fantasy. I don’t think anyone would do that unless it was a very remarkable circumstance! And in my dream it has to be in person – that’s half of the pleasure. Something nurturing and face-to-face.

    • Writing groups are awesome! I use scribophile.com and also have an in-person group. There’s just something about the whole one on one idea, with some amazing writer who’s got lots of experience and wisdom. I know it would never happen – just a fantasy!

      • I have had that fantasy too. I think maybe I wrote on my blog about how I revealed to an old teacher that I wanted a mentor and she kind of scoffed–I guess her point was that those relationships take a long time to build and you can’t just find one. Still, a girl can dream. I feel I had great teachers but I don’t have a mentor, so I make do with peers. Anyway, I do very much hear what you’re saying in this.

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