A Clearing #sol22
I trudge down the hallways barely noticing the turkeys still up from Thanksgiving or the stray glove in the windowsill with the cheerful 1-2-3-4-5 knitted into the fingers. My head is swirling with compounding worry, progress monitoring data, covid worries, testing schedules, professional development plans. All of it feels unsurmountable in a way that doesn’t fit, like a too-tight sweater in a color I’d never wear. I seem to wear it every day now on repeat.
But then I arrive, I open the door to that first grade writing workshop. Even the light feels different as they turn, each of them, with smiles. Words poised on their lips, they can’t wait to tell me what they are going to write about today, for I am their audience. They are writing this book for me. They finish their group planning and off they go paper in hand, heads huddled, chatter ripples through the room. I move toward a group, then pause. They don’t need help, so I watch… and listen. This group is discussing the ‘what’, another the ‘who’, and so on. They are planning, discussing, words are bouncing through the air. Will that group get going? I take a step then pause again. Off they go. Occasionally, I can’t help myself, I lean closer for a look or a question, How’s it going? When I can’t help myself, I remind them, you can check the planner or make sure it makes sense. They don’t really need that but it makes me feel more connected to their optimism, their confidence, their energy. For the next twenty minutes, I just soak it in, their growth, their independence, the fact that the outside troubles can’t breach the light wood door of this first grade haven of writing.
Thank goodness I’m not done with writing for the day. Off I go to third grade. This time, my steps are steady and I look up. My head is filled with anticipation of what these writers will be up to today. They are nearly finished with their nonfiction chapter books, revising, editing, publishing. It’s been a few days since we’ve talked. I’m working with a couple of writers whose books aren’t holding together so well. Interestingly, they are both writing about school, but their approaches couldn’t be more different. This class is already writing, so I drop down in a desk between them. How’s it going? They are deep into it, but look up. I ask one to read me the chapter he’s working on. His writing has so much voice… and so little substance. Where to coach here? I smile at his teacher over their heads. I want to thank her for inviting me to think alongside her and these writers.
Too soon the time is over, I go back to the literacy center to consider how to ‘spark joy’ with some professional development time next week, how to ease some burdens, how to give these weary teachers a glimpse of the clearing. Sometimes they seems to close to the trees to see the beauty. I’ll make sure I. point it out tomorrow.