|at Two Writing Teachers!|
|I laminated it to keep on my desk!|
But they came, and they ooh'ed and aah'ed and pointed at the activities and decorations and materials I'd made for our thematic unit. They watched my students learning, they took my extra copies of my handouts, they asked me questions, and they pointed out all the things I was doing that were "just like" what they were learning in their PD session. Of course I knew all the theories I was putting into practice, and I knew my students were learning... but suddenly it was more real once it was validated by other people: I was a real ESL teacher, one worth watching and learning from!
This year, thanks mostly to budget cuts, we have a new format: 28 K-5 students in an elementary school library with me and the librarian for a two-hour, two-day-a-week "Summer Book Club" through the month of June. (Previously, it was just me with about 10-15 students for about 2.5 hours every day for two and a half weeks.) The jump back down to elementary from middle school (wooo, those K's are little and wiggly!) has taken some readjusting on my part, and the Tues/Thurs schedule is nice for making it feel like a real summer but makes it hard to get into a rhythm. Since there are so many kids, we've been splitting them and doing stations, but that makes me feel even more discombobulated. (What a fun word! I love words that feel like the idea they express!)
Besides, I didn't feel like we were doing anything super "great" today... the kids were using pictures that I took of them last week to write about the show and tell they did about a special object from their home countries, they were adding Olympics-related words to the word wall, the librarian was doing a read-aloud, and I was doing a content-knowledge-building activity about Olympic sports on the SMARTboard, where the kids would drag pictures of sports into "Winter Olympics", "Summer Olympics", or "Not in the Olympics" categories. Nothing spectacular.
So I was feeling just as unsure about being observed as I was that first summer... but my feelings were just as unfounded. The teachers were fascinated, the ELL coordinators complimented me on the country activity and the SMARTboard activity, and one whispered in my ear that the deputy superintendent was "very impressed". On top of all that, one of the coordinators texted me this afternoon, just to say "Great lesson!"
Really, I wish teachers had more chances to observe each other and be observed. Having the chance to talk about my activities encourages reflection and helps me articulate what I believe about teaching and learning, and I would certainly learn so much more if I could watch other teachers and discuss their lessons with them more often! Besides, there's nothing more powerful than words of praise and encouragement, especially from people you admire and respect. Just as I've come to know through slicing, words mean so much. They can push you, challenge you, lift you up, and keep you going.
You (yes, you, slicing friend!) are a pleasure to exchange words with. While I can't possibly tape them all on my desk, I carry them in my heart.