Listen and Look — Plan and Teach

“Look at this! It’s so good! So good! She did so good.” One teacher shows me a reading assessment done with one of her kindergarteners. I listen and look as she points out all that this young reader can do independently.

“Look at this. It’s not so good.” A teacher says to me in the hallway, holding an assessment capturing where another developing kindergarten reader is at. I listen and look as she points out what this reader did do and what she needs more instruction on.

“He started the year with 4 letter names and 1 sound.” Another teacher says to me at our planning meeting. “Look at what he knows now!”

There has been rich teaching and learning going on across these kindergarten classrooms. The classroom teachers have been working since September to not only welcome their new students, but to know each of them individually as readers and writers. I’ve been lucky to be part of the journey with these teachers, with these children. I’ve been lucky to share in their excitement, their wonderings as well as their planning.

Throughout the year, we stop to reflect together on where children started and we gain insight into their progress, their strengths, their goals. Stopping to reflect on the work allows us together, as a team of teachers, to make decisions on how best to continue to plan for, teach, and support not only each developing reader, but each other.


he’s a sponge

he soaks it all in

the walks, the talks, the teaching, the learning

he was open

he was ready

he wanted it

we gave it bit by bit

he took it bit by bit

now, he owns it

he owns his learning

“CAN! It’s the word can!” I know! I read it! I read it in a book!”

he knows that he knows


he’s ready

ready for more

if he’s ready, so are we

ready together

Worth the Work

Thanksgiving 2021 table place cards

Growing up, Thanksgiving was kinda a big deal. I grew up in a modest ranch home in a little suburban, working class town in Massachusetts. When the leaves started to turn and there was a chill in the air, my Mom would spend many a night perched on the stool in the kitchen ringing up each of my father’s five sisters and his mother, Nonna. Altogether, she’d be coordinating a feast for about fifty.

The weekend before Thanksgiving was an event in and of itself. We’d all pile up in my Dad’s red Chevy truck and head to the church hall to pick up fifty folding chairs and enough folding tables to hold the feast and all the fixings. We’d be lifting, pushing, vacuuming and laughing and sneezing all in preparation for the gathering of all gatherings.

Thanksgiving eve would come and my sister and I would be finishing up the place cards and arranging the seating. When those cards were out, carefully placed at each seat, I’d head to bed giddy with anticipation for the day ahead.

Those days of Thanksgiving at my Mom’s are distant yet vivid memory. Here I sit, preparing to host a myself and those place cards still excite me. I’ve kept many from the years I’ve hosted and even have one my Aunt Carol made from long ago. There’s something about a place card that helps me prepare for each person – each person that I get to spend Thanksgiving with, in my home — for that I am grateful.

My place “card” Thanksgiving 1970 something
Massachusetts Thanksgiving circa 1980 something

Too Many Tabs

I write a lot down. They aren’t really lists but when I get an idea or I think of something I have to, should, or could do, I write it down. If Billy tells me something he doesn’t want to forget, I write it down. These notes are often written in my signature chicken scratch. One little post it or slip of paper can hold a hundred notes. One little post or slip can hold one note. No matter the content, I find these pieces of paper to be of incredible value. They keep me on track. When the days get busy or get too tired they look up at me and remind me of all the possibilities for getting shit done. I find this approach to be fairly successful approach to a fairly organized, productive life.

I’ve been noticing another habit of mine. I open a lot of tabs. I often open a lot of tabs and leave them open. I’ll sit down to the computer with a purpose, “Let me check my email.” Before I can even open one email, I’ve opened another tab, “Let me look see if I can trim my hydrangea now.” Then another, “Oh yeah, I wanted to make that b/d roll and read paper for G.” Then another, “Let me check out the sale at Madewell.” Then another, “Oh I wanted to make a place setting for Thanksgiving. Let me google that.” Before I know it, I’ve got a trail of tabs open and I’ve accomplished nothing. Then I’ll close the computer, and be off walking the dog, or making my lunch, or cleaning a bathroom, or painting my nails. The next time I sit down and open my computer, there’s all those tabs staring back at me, reminding me of all the ideas, thoughts, shouldas, and couldas. I find myself mindlessly wandering through my own mind…again.

After this short reflection, I’ve decided to maintain my chicken scratch note habit. As for my too many tabs habit, I’ll get back to you, off to open another tab to search for some Christmas gifts.

Station Conversation

“Guess what I learned today?” I’m rushing out to recess duty. I’m late, but Gregory’s question stops me in my tracks.

“I learned,” he pauses. “I learned times today!” he proclaims as he untwists his water bottle top.

“Woooooo! Really?” The words fall out of my mouth and my feet want to move towards the door. Recess is calling but his excitement has me standing right with him.

Gregory continues. “Really! For example,” he pauses and thinks back to what he has learned. “For example, 5 x 2 is 10. And…and.” He knows I’m a captive audience and continues, “And five times four is twenty!”

“Amazing, Gregory! Simply amazing. I bet your glad you came to school today.”

He shakes his head and turns to the water filling station and I hear him say “I can’t believe I learned times today!”

“I can’t believe I got to hear what you learned today!” I call back to him as I leave the water filling station and finally head out to recess duty. Late, but worth it.