Today is the second day of our Accreditation Visit and, if you’ve ever participated in this process, you may remember how stressful the time leading up to the visit can be.
We’ve spent about a year, or more, doing a self-study. We’ve looked deeply into our school, extrapolating beyond our particular grade level, to come up with an “average” score for the whole school in a wide range of categories from teaching and learning to staff culture to human resources and more. It has been an interesting process for sure! This week our visiting team is here to verify the findings of our self-study, including our recommendations for improvement. They are meeting with groups of teachers, staff, students, parents and other school members.
They are also visiting classrooms.
Today two team members came into my classroom during writing workshop and reading workshop, respectively. One of them stayed for a short while and then left. The other one stayed longer…until we had to “duck and cover” for an earthquake drill!
Before the unannounced drill happened we had a good chunk of time in reading workshop. First, we did our daily reading status check in. We went around the circle and everyone stated the title of the book they had read the night before and what page they were on. I wrote this information on each child’s calendar page. Then, students had two to three minutes to talk with a partner about their reading. Afterwards, I read the beginning of I Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech in celebration of National Poetry Month.
At this point, my students engaged in a spontaneous conversation about Love that Dog, also by Sharon Creech, with contagious enthusiasm. A few students asked to borrow a copy of each book since there are multiple copies in the classroom. I guess they’d never noticed them before! Next, everyone went off to read independently while I conferred with students. This transition can be tricky sometimes because it takes my students a few minutes to settle into their reading.
Two boys decided to read the one classroom copy of Love that Dog together. Initially, I applauded their initiative until I observed the two boys in the corner…One of them, the reader, was seating in a comfy chair, while the other boy simply sat on the floor and doodled on sticky notes. It was hard to tell if the listener was really listening to the reader who happily read away, oblivious to the listener. At that moment, I decided that tomorrow I will meet with these boys first thing to discuss what reading with a partner might look like.
I hope the member of the accreditation team noticed the following:
- the intensity of the conversations about Sharon Creech’s books,
- kids talking about their self-selected books with partners,
- kids directing questions and comments to each other during the whole class check in,
- the way kids found their reading spots quickly,
- that one boy asked if he could take his book outside during the earthquake drill (she couldn’t know that he was one my reluctant readers at the beginning of the year).