“The more we take risks and learn from each other, the greater the energy-giving satisfaction. Ultimately, we see beyond our own limited collegial relationship to the possibilities of an energy giving vision we can fulfill together.” Donald Graves
“So, if Ms. Carey came in to Reader’s Workshop one day, sat down next to you and asked ‘So, Will, what are you working on as a reader?’, what would you tell her?” I asked, checking in.
Will paused, looked down at his post it and said, “I’m keeping track of characters so I know who they are and how they are feeling.”
“You know what you are working on. Back to independent reading. Enjoy Sweet Face and whatever adventure she goes on!”
I watched as Will and and the four members of the small group scattered back to their reading spots.
All during my small group on the floor, I could hear Katie and her small group behind me. I wondered what they were working on.
I was so present with my small group, but inside, curiosity was tugging. I want to know what Katie was doing. I wanted to hear her words. I wanted to watch and learn how the kids responded to her. She is the classroom teacher, I wanted to know her words so, as an interventionist who pushes in, I could support her work in teaching the readers and writers that are her class.
My group had dispersed with their goals and books in hand. I turned, watched, and listened.
“Punctuation matters.” Katie said.
“Let’s eat Grandma.” she read.
Let’s eat, Grandma!” she read again
Kids looked at her a bit bewildered. She read each sentence again really accenting the punctuation with her voice. Slowly, kids began to laugh. Clearly, they were making meaning and pictures in their minds of “Let’s eat Grandma.”
Katie went on to tell her small group of readers that it’s important work to pay attention to punctuation because it can change the meaning. She added that using a character voice and a story teller voice when reading, helps strengthen understanding. I looked away from the group to answer a question. When I turned back to the group, each child had a book in hand and Katie was watching them practice what she had just modeled and taught.
It all happened so fast. Before I knew it, I had to leave. Begrudgingly, I grabbed my bag and walked out.
Last year, we discovered as a school, that we had a need for collaboratively, well planned, guided reading. Initially, we thought it might be best K-1. Under the wise guidance of our coach, Jess, we hashed out our thinking, and came to the conclusion that guided reading really serves a purpose in the beginning of second grade. We knew it would help us get to know the new readers before us and help them scoot passed any summer slide.
This year, five full weeks into school, guided reading is up and running in all classrooms K-2. It is a daily sight to see teachers combing through the guided reading carts in the halls. I can see any teachers’ plans in our shared folder. The record of the planning is helping us to make teaching decisions that will grow readers at all levels. It is cohesive, collaborative work that is making a difference for kids.
As walked down the hall towards a meeting at the end of the day today, Tom was coming out of Katie’s class. He had his Sweet Face book in hand. “Hey Mrs. Sherriff, I just read during snack time and I’ve put some post its in.” “That’s great Tom. What are the post its for?” I knew, but wanted to know if he knew. “I’m keeping track of the characters and what they are doing and feeling. It’s a lot of work.” I high fived Tom and we each went on our way.
The work we are doing together as teachers can have an impact on the children we teach and also each other. I was completely energized walking out of Katie’s room because the work in her room felt purposeful and productive for me. As I listened to Katie teach with intention and excitement I couldn’t help but think it felt the same for her. The readerly exchange with Tom in the hall let me know that he too, was still feeling the purpose and productivity from much earlier in the day.
We are all responsible for teaching all the children. Today, in Katie’s room, I felt and saw that shared responsibility.