I had another night. The kids were taking the writing benchmark and were split up between my room and the neighboring room. Except it wasn't one class divided in half, it was like two full classes that I was responsible for. In the neighboring room they were quiet and writing away, but in my room they were all talking and socializing. And it was the strangest assortment of kids. Kids I taught this year (Namgyu) and kids from past years (Carly) and then people closer to my age that I never taught (Mark Murphy) and people I went to elementary school with in New York (Karen Craddock).
Once I got the kids somewhat settled I had a conference with Karen (I know - would never happen during the real writing benchmark). She was feeling unsure about the piece she was writing, which is interesting because I think I had this dream because I am feeling unsure about conferring next year with my students. She told me about her piece and in the end (no - I did not follow the general conference outline: Research, Decide, Teach) I said, "So what's your question?" and Karen replied, "How do I know if this is good or not?" I gave her a long answer about if she thinks its good, it is because she's the only assessor that matters. Then she asked, "So do I get an automatic 5?" I laughed good-heartedly and patted her shoulder. "No," I said, "Unfortunately someone else is still going to score this." She looked crest-fallen and that's how I felt as I stood up and walked away from her.
How do we teach the concept of the audience of one and make it meaningful? What does it mean that we tell the students that their assessment is the only one that matters when for some, clearly the one they receive from an outside source is very important too? And can subsequently shape their future feelings about writing.