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Between Talk And Teaching

Between Talk And Teaching: Reconsidering the Writing Conference

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Between Talk And Teaching
    Book Description:

    The teacher-student conference is standard in the repertoire of teachers at all levels. Because it's a one-to-one encounter, teachers work hard to make it comfortable; but because it's a pedagogical moment, they hope that learning occurs in the encounter, too. The literature in this area often suggests that a conference is a conversation, but this doesn't account for a teacher's need to use it pedagogically. Laurel Johnson Black's new book explores the conflicting meanings and relations embedded in conferencing and offers a new theoretical understanding of the conference along with practical approaches to conferencing more effectively with students. Analyzing taped conferences of several different teachers and students, Black considers the influence that power, gender, and culture can have on a conference. She draws on sociolinguistic theory, as well as critical theory in composition and rhetoric, to build an understanding of the writing conference as an encounter somewhere between conversation and the classroom. She finds neither the conversation model nor versions of the master-apprentice model satisfactory. Her approach is humane, student-centered, and progressive, but it does not ignore the valid pedagogical purposes a teacher might have in conferencing. Between Talk and Teaching will be a valuable addition to the professional library of writing teachers and writing program administrators.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-328-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

    (pp. 1-10)

    The english department offices were on the third floor of the library, on the end near fraternity row. I climbed slowly up the stairs, planting each foot deliberately on the worn marble treads. At the top, to the left, was the secretary’s desk. It was a few minutes before five. I stood quietly in front of her, happy to let seconds pass as I waited for her to notice me. When she finally looked up, I asked her where Dr. B’s office was. She gave me the number, glanced at the clock, and began to put the plastic cover on...

  2. CHAPTER ONE Conversation, Teaching, and Points in Between The Confusion of Conferencing
    (pp. 11-38)

    I began studying my own conferencing practice many years ago, while I was still a graduate student. I’ll admit that I chose that particular project for my research course because I was smug in my belief that any examination would show the professor and my classmates how fair, honest, critical, thoughtful, reflective, and even nurturing I was. It would show that I could connect with each student individually and personally. But what I learned from analyzing transcripts of my conferences is how great a distance lay between my image and my words, my goals and my practice. Despite any perceptions...

  3. CHAPTER TWO Power and Talk
    (pp. 39-60)

    Many of the problems that occur between students and teachers in conferencing arise because of the difference in power between participants. In classrooms, that power difference is indicated in many ways—for example, in the geography and use of physical space. In most classrooms, one teacher occupies the front third of the classroom, while in contrast, 20 or more students occupy the other two-thirds of the space. The teacher controls access to the chalkboard or overhead, and even controls how students will seat themselves. “Teacher talk” is also an indicator of power difference. It is very tempting, as we learned...

  4. CHAPTER THREE Gender and Conferencing
    (pp. 61-86)

    Recently, a group of students in my first-year composition class ran a game in which three teams competed for a prize of candy by correctly answering questions about grammar. Members of each team signaled their readiness to answer by shouting “Bing!” There was no penalty for a wrong answer except that another team could then try. I realized, as I watched a team of all women competing against a team of mostly men, that the women, all of whom I knew to be very competent students, rarely shouted out “Bing!”, while their male counterparts shouted it immediately after the question...

  5. CHAPTER FOUR Cross-Cultural Conferencing
    (pp. 87-120)

    A line of poetry from adrienne rich burned itself into bell hooks’s memory and life.

    “This is the oppressor’s language yet I need it to talk to you.” Then, when I first read these words, and now, they make me think of standard English, of learning to speak against black vernacular, against the ruptured and broken speech of a dispossessed and displaced people. Standard English is not the speech of exile. It is the language of conquest and domination; in the United States, it is the mask which hides the loss of so many tongues, all those sounds of diverse,...

  6. CHAPTER FIVE The Affective Dimension
    (pp. 121-146)

    I love teaching. i love to read books, i love to read student papers, and I love to read, period. As a undergraduate, I “hated” Portrait of a Lady, but I “loved” McTeague. T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens interested me, but Robert Bly, Sylvia Plath, and William Stafford moved me. I was embarrassed by my writing in an introductory fiction class, to the point where I still remember most of what I wrote and how shallow and awkward it seemed next to my more talented classmates’ work. I felt proud and special in my poetry workshops, loving this poem, frustrated...

  7. CHAPTER SIX Possibilities
    (pp. 147-168)

    I settled back in the big green chair and read the transcribed words of students and teachers. I read my own words in journals and old transcripts. I looked at data sheets and columns of numbers. Then I asked myself a question that surprised me, that was deceptively simple: What do I want to happen as a result of my conferencing?

    I realized that I had hoped when I began to research conferencing that I would find real change was taking place, that I would learn how to conference with more skill and compassion. That I would learn how to...

  8. APPENDIX A: Teacher-Student Conference Pairs
    (pp. 173-173)
  9. APPENDIX B: Transcription Notations
    (pp. 174-174)
  10. APPENDIX D: Discourse Markers
    (pp. 176-178)