Wednesday, October 6

A Moment of Grace at Lunch

At my school, we eat lunch with the students.  Obviously, this requirement has its pros and cons.  I don’t get to share with my colleagues over a meal, but I do get to eaves drop on some interesting student conversations.  It is amazing what a child will share over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Yesterday the conversation took my breath away.  I had to use every ounce of self-control not to participate and just keep listening.  At first, I wasn’t even sure I was actually hearing what I thought I was hearing!  The students were discussing  reading strategies!  Yes, they were actually discussing the reading strategies they are taught in Reading Workshop.

The teacher I am mentoring is using many of my Reading Workshop techniques.  It has been a joyful experience sharing with her the passion I feel for literacy and she has eagerly embraced the philosophy of Reading Workshop.  We both have our “Metagcognition” umbrellas hanging in our classrooms.  She is busy introducing the strategies to her third grade students during the first six weeks of school and I am busy reviewing them with my fourth graders.  We both refer to this visual cue throughout our teaching days.  (We hang an umbrella in the room with “Metacognition” on the top and all of the reading strategies hang below to represent how we “think about thinking.”)

During lunch, some third graders joined my fourth graders and I noticed they were pointing to the umbrella hanging over their heads.  They were sharing with each other what strategy they worked on during their mini-lessons that morning.  Then, they began to share which strategy was their favorite and why it was their favorite.   Not only were they saying things such as, “I like visualizing.”  They were explaining the reasons to each other.  For example, “I like how creative I get to be with my own visualizations.”  I also over heard this one, “I like text-to-text connections because I think of the bridge and bring my thinking together.”  Can you believe it? 

This continued for a good fifteen minutes with a group of students.  Now, imagine me not jumping into the conversation.  Imagine the restraint it took for me to observe and not try to make this into a teachable moment.  I wanted to jump up and down with enthusiasm for not only were they stating favorites, but they were explaining why a strategy was their favorite.  I was so in awe of them, but my instinct was not to interfere.  If this discussion happened naturally, it didn’t need me.  I was so afraid I would make them self-conscious.  I kept my mouth shut and tweeted it on twitter instead.  (I knew a blog was coming!)

This was a magical moment for me.  It was a moment of grace.  Listening to my students discuss not only what they learned, but how they felt about it not only made my day, but further inspires me.  Most importantly, maybe, just maybe, they will keep this passion for thinking about thinking and keep on reading well after I’ve stopped eaves dropping.

For me, this is everything. 


Sarah said...

What a FANTASTIC moment. Success!! I'm totally impressed you were able to keep quiet during the discussion :)

Nancy Hniedziejko (Nancy Ehrlich) said...

Me too!! It was quite difficult not to jump in, but I'm so glad I didn't. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Mama Pike said...

You must have felt so encouraged. It must have been hard to not let on that you were hearing the conversation!

The Maguires said...

Wow! I love it! I want to hear more about the cards that you hang from your umbrella. Is Kristin Henry the teacher of whom you speak? I know her from South Carolina. Love her, too!

Nancy Hniedziejko (Nancy Ehrlich) said...

Thanks for reading my blog, and YES! It is the one and only Kristin Henry. I'm having a blast sharing and mentoring Kristin. She is awesome and is exceeding all expectations. I use the symbols from "Into the Book." You can find them at