There Was Nothing to Fear After All

Let me catch you up on the week. On Tueday’s slice of life, I expressed trepidation about my next three working days. I was meeting with teachers (I did not know) on their plan period to talk about writing instruction and then I would spend the next two days modeling a writing lesson in each teacher’s class. It’s always the unknown that causes fear to rise up and grab hold of your mind.

For the most part, I received a very warm welcome (or was it because of the chocolates on the table?). “I am so glad you are here. I have been asking for writing forever!” were phrases I heard on Wednesday. I gave the teachers a comfort level survey of ten items for them to rate just so I could get a feel for what they know about writing. They were open and honest in their appraisal of their knowledge. However, there was one teacher who put a 4 next to every topic (the ratings were 1-4). Maybe the teachers will be able to use her for a resource. The day passed quickly as the teachers came in for their short period. They were truly interested. The teaching-learning facilitator (TLF) stayed by my side all day. She had lots of questions about my thoughts on reading and writing. It was enjoyable to have conversations related to best teaching practices. Later that evening she sent me an email thanking me for a great day.

Thursday began modeling lessons in classes. My first class was third grade and this teacher was eager to learn. I was teaching a lesson about keeping a focus in writing. She whips out her iPad and begins to film the lesson. She is moving all around the room following me and the students as we work through the lesson. That was a new experience for me. Fifth grade was all about discovering common leads in mentor texts. We began an anchor chart of leads (the teacher asked if I could leave it, absolutely I said). Then it was on to a split fourth/fifth grade class. I had a story (it was about swimming and leeches) and the question was did I give enough details to tell it fully? Of course I left a few poignant facts out. This was a noisy group, but we got the job done. Time for lunch and two more lessons before the day is done. After lunch, I went to second grade and the lesson was on beginning sentences in different ways. The day is almost over, but there is one more fourth grade class. My lesson was to be the same one I did in the split class, piece of cake, right? Not so much so. It was the end of the day and they were in no mood to work with me. Let’s just say, I earned my pay during that period.

Friday was for kindergarten, first grade, and another second grade. Do you remember what Friday was? Read Across America day! There were guest readers in and  out. Students with headband Cat in the Hat hats and just general craziness happening all day. All in all, it was a successful day. At 3:45 I get into my car to begin the three and a half hour drive home. I am on autopilot as I navigate the city traffic and head down the road. Finally I am home, now I have a little time to read and comment on some slices before going to bed. I am wiped out with exhaustion.

I go back to this school at the end of the month. I will go with anticipation not trepidation, because I know more about what they are hoping to learn. I can help them down the path of writer’s workshop. For some it will be a bumpy ride, but most want to jump on this roller coaster and take their students for the ride of their life. This will be fun!

19 thoughts on “There Was Nothing to Fear After All

  1. shaggerspicchu says:

    Wowwee! You made it and you made a difference in the lives of teachers but more importantly all of the students that those teachers will encounter in the future! Way to go !

  2. So glad you had a positive experience! I’m sure that they will be eager to have you return and I’m anxious to hear about it as well. So often I find that I get so close to my students that their growth isn’t as noticeable…I hope that you’ll find them much “taller!”

  3. I’m so glad it worked out. I know how challenging it can be and nerve wracking to just jump into working with a group of teachers that you don’t know. I can’t wait to see how your next visit goes.

  4. Jama says:

    Elsie, I wish I could have you come to my classroom. I would love the collaboration to help the students grow as writers.

  5. What a week. You got it done and the SOLS Challenge! I’m glad it’s anticipation that awaits you next time. Now it’s time for you to relax a little and find those small, little moments that we look forward to reading about in your posts. What will it be and what great story will come out of it, Elsie?

  6. You are such a model for me, Elsie. I love that you gave the details of the lessons & I will take away some of what happened so I can be prepared when I do this, too. Your week sounds very full, but rewarding too. I have a teacher who wants me to start some poetry with her students because she hates it-a big challenge. I don’t want to do everything for her so she thinks it’s done because it’s important that she model her own likes with her students throughout the year, but how to approach this is my latest challenge.

  7. It is a scary thing to put your teaching out there, but as you found the rewards are unbelievable. It’s not about seeing the perfect lesson, it’s about noticing the students’ learning and talking about the instructional decisions and asking:

    – What worked?
    – What was challenging?
    – And Where do we go from here?

    The debriefing is my favorite part. As teachers we just never have enough time to talk about our instructional moves.

    You’re so thoughtful too – giving all teachers the benefit of doubt.

  8. I have read through today’s post and your other ones. I love when you share your feelings. I look forward to reading what you write each day for your slices.
    Love the picture of the mole, and your walk.
    Thank you for being real and vulnerable

  9. grade4wizard says:

    You had 3 busy days. I am glad that everything worked out well. I think it is a wonderful opportunity to let someone to model a lesson and learn from it. Your job may be exhausting but it is rewarding.
    Terje (Te (as in ten) -r (rolling strong) – ye (as in yellow))

  10. Wow! You had some busy days. I am happy that you got a positive reception from the group. I don’t think it was cool for the teacher to video tape you without asking in advance, that’s just plain rude. The 4’s on the survey, would lead me to believe that this person just wasn’t in the mood for professional development. I can’t imagine that anyone thought they had “nothing” to learn. I think doing your job must take a lot of courage. I wouldn’t do it for all the tea in China. I’ve been in your position, enjoyed it mostly but decided I needed to be with kids more. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to hear how it goes at the end of the month.

  11. It’s so interesting to read about your work Elsie, because I am on the same path as a consultant from the Hudson Valley Writing Project and recently, like you I was challenged to work in the intermediate school (3-8) and at first I was scheduled to model lessons in grade after grade, class after class and being based in the junior-high school all my teaching career I started having nightmares but given that I have a good relationship with the administrator who offered me the work, I was able to work closer with the teachers, tailoring my work with them to what might fit best with each one. Some doors were not open to me and after a few tries I let them be.
    So good to have you share your experiences in such great detail. I am working on a digital piece to share with the school board. I was the one documenting, not the teacher with the iPad. That seems a bit off-putting.

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