I’ve known Peter Humbleswede since I started teaching 27 years ago. He was a 4th grade teacher. I was a 2nd grade teacher. We really did not have many opportunities to work together in my first few years. Then, thanks to the brilliant teacher research mind of a colleague, Karen Ernst (daSilva), Peter and I found ourselves at Community of Teachers Learning meetings together. There, we would share work from our classrooms, question and learn from each other, and write quietly together and then share some more. That was way back when. Since then, Peter and I have always worked in the same building but our collaboration, our teaching and learning together, have been sporadic.
Tracey Push to Write walked into my 3rd grade classroom way back when to teach a demo lesson. She was in the middle of the “interview” process. It was warm out, probably late May, early June, she was wearing a long floral dress. My class, that year, had some unique personalities. I loved them, because I knew them. I worried a bit for the candidate that was about to get to know them. I sat back and watched as some of them revealed themselves to Tracey. I sat back and watched how genuinely she worked to know them, leaving bits of the lesson to wait. I knew she would be a great colleague. She was hired and we had the gift of working together, in the same school, for a few years.
Jess Where There’s Joy was in the background of my teaching for a few years. She was an interventionist in another building when I fell into the role of interventionist in my current building. We would be in the same company a few times a year when the district would pull us all of us together. I knew then, that we had similar beliefs around teaching and learning. Then, when our district moved to a coaching model, Jess moved from the background of my teaching to the forefront when she became the Literacy Coach in my building. The rest is history.
Peter, Jess, Tracey and I have each embraced the March Slice of Life Challenge this year. I think Jess has been at it four years, Peter and I three, I think. This is Tracey’s first year. With the April Classroom Slice of Life Challenge looming, the four of us had a “meeting” – aka google meet – today. We hoped to be able to invite children in our respective buildings to write for thirty days.
I sat in my guest room, turned classroom, with the three of them on my screen. It was odd, it was. Right in front of me, were three people who had shaped me as a teacher. They each had impacted my work around teaching and learning over the years. We were “together” because we share a belief in teacher as writer. We were together because we believe in creating opportunities for children to see the themselves as writers outside of school. We were together because we believe in writers.
In the middle of a global pandemic, we found ourselves planning, remembering, creating, reinventing what the April Classroom Slice of Life could like…together.