“communicate with compassion” Alveda King
At 8:43 and 12:43 last Friday, I logged on to school wide Zoom read aloud. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team had planned and organized a read aloud that would bring the entire school community together in the spirit of Martin Luther King.
Our Principal, Beth, and our Literacy Coach, Jess, had planned a Zoom read aloud, Little People, Big Dreams, Martin Luther King. Together, they had planned stopping points that would serve as inspiration for anyone to contribute in the chat. “What kind of person was he?” was the big question that would hopefully inspire ideas and thinking. Eric, our ever involved, big picture, technology teacher worked to make the idea come to life for our entire school community. (Thanks to The Covid, we had cohorts and colleagues in quarantine and cohorts and colleagues in school!)
So at 8:44 and 12:44 my screen began to fill with the faces of children, teachers, paraprofessionals in school and home. And then, the book filled the screen and the people sat in strips.
Beth began to read. The story began with a young Martin and his faithful, church going family. The story then takes us through his life hearing about the people and experiences that nourished his bravery and determination.
I listened. I found myself scrolling through the squares, wanting to see their eyes as they listened. In those eyes I began to see the wheels turning as they themselves listened. Before I knew it, Beth had posed a question and the chat came to life. I was mesmerized by the comments that appeared alongside my screen. (see below)
There was no back and forth conversation like in a classroom. There was no grand conversation but, I couldn’t help but be proud to be part of a community of teachers and learners who believed they could and did. We were a community of readers beginning conversations, sharing thinking, getting ready for Black History Month.
Later that day, I went to get Valerie, a first grade literacy support student. “What did you think of the read aloud today, Valerie.” Her spirited personality lit up the afternoon, “It was great!” I followed up with the same question from the read aloud, “What kind of person do you think Martin was?” “Well, Mrs. Sherriff,” she said matter of factly, “he was kind and he wants us all to stand tall.” “What do you mean “stand tall“? I wanted to hear more, learn more, from her. “You know, Mrs. Sherriff.” she continued. “Martin wants us all to stand tall for each other!” she said with such simple, yet strong conviction. “We all just need to stand tall for each other.”
Yes, we all need to stand tall for each other.
Comments pulled from the ‘chatversation’ with the morning and afternoon cohorts :
kindergarten – “he felt sad and wants to help
1st grade – “he was persistent, thoughtful and kind”
1st grade – “he is trying to show everyone his dream and bring everyone together”
4th grade – “stubborn in a good way, wasn’t going to back down for what was right”
2nd grade – “he never gave up and never went back on his beliefs
5th grader at home – “we can learn to be determined, brave”
2nd grader at home – “he just used his words to tell people what he though was right”
5th grade class – “he reacted peacefully. his hard work paid off”
4th grader — “he was open minded and caring”
2nd grader at home – “he had a wish to help the world”
5th grader – “he was consistent in helping others”
1st grade – “he was a leader”
2nd grader at home – “to be kind it does not matter what you look like, they should be treated the same”
2nd grade – “life can put you down but keep moving forward”