My schedule is constantly changing. Ok, not constantly, but in order to be responsive to what kids need, I am always at the ready to adjust groupings or times. These adjustments are always made in collaboration with the classroom teacher.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Ted and Ozzy, two second graders. These two have become readers and Friday mornings are a time for them to be writers. Our goal is always independence and transfer of phonics skills to writing. This week, a first grader writer, Joey joined them. Joey was demonstrating the same strengths in the support setting and in the classroom as Ted and Ozzy — he too, was a reader. He also, needed continued work on using and transferring his first grade phonics skills to his writing independently. I figured, why not try a small multiage writers group.
So Friday morning, my day began with Ozzy and Joey. Ted was absent. The boys settled into their writing. Both first and second grade were in a non-fiction writing unit. Ozzy jumped right into his All About Football book and Joey dove into his How to Make a Paper House. “Joey, do your remember the tip you are working on using?” He looked at me expectantly. I held up a small gold pom pom. “Yes, pom pom spaces.” He took the pom pom from my hand, clearly ready to implement his tip. I bounced back and forth between each writer, whispering in when necessary, reminding each writer of digraphs, or vowel teams, or lower case letters. I supported the ideas and offered momentum when necessary.
I sat. I observed. It’s a gift to watch a writer at work. Ozzy was rereading his own writing, gaining his own momentum. “Offense is when you are trying to get the football so you can get a touchdown.” In this moment, Joey was also watching. He was watching Ozzy at work. He was watching and listening, like writers when they are in the company of other writers. When Ozzy had finished his line, “so you can get a touchdown” there was a brief moment of silence that was broken by Joey. His voice was so soft, neither Ozzy or I heard it. Completely curious, I asked, “What did you say?” “Next you should say what a touchdown is.” “Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea.” There it was Ozzy, the second grade writer, receiving feedback from a first grade writer.
Thirty years ago, when I was baby teacher, I was surrounded by veteran, experienced teachers. I remember thinking that part of my job was to learn as much as I could from them. I quickly learned, thanks to our Community of Teachers Learning study groups, that those same veteran teachers were still learning. They were open to learning from each other as well as me. I believe in working to create communities, whether they be writers or teachers, where, no matter the age or grade, we are all learning from each other.