“No one cares how much you know unless they know how much you care.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
Not only can I apply it to my own teaching, but also to parenting, my marriage, being a good friend, and so many other areas of my life.
Day two of the All Write!!! summer institute was fantastic…just like day one. I began my day in a session about teaching reading in small groups with Jennifer Serravallo. She suggested that teachers think about engagement, fluency, conversation, print work (working with text in various ways), and comprehension in terms of skills in a continuum rather than being something they can or cannot do. She discussed the differences between guided reading groups and strategy lessons/groups and suggested using a blend of the two with students. This is an idea I have been toying with, testing out, believing in over the last few years but still struggle to implement effectively. I want to learn more in this area and was pleased to be a part of this session.
Next, I attended a Tanny McGregor session on making inferences. Tanny’s bubbly, positive attitude came shining through as she spoke about ways to use images, books, concrete objects, cartoon characters…anything children can solidly connect to as well as things they know nothing about…to teach the skill of inferring. One big Ah-Ha I took away was using book jackets (why have I been throwing those away?!) to make inferences about books or images. It was another great session!
The next session, however, was the icing on the cake as a writing teacher. I was fortunate to attend a session with Penny Kittle that presented the history of Donald Graves’ work with young children and the impact that work had on teachers. This was a double-length session that showcased the amazing work of Graves through video clips of him teaching young children and presenting to teachers long ago. It was fantastic to see his work through the eyes of someone who worked with him, knew him and revered him. Penny is a dynamic speaker who drew me into her presentation completely. She shared this thought that I can’t shake… “We come from a history of listening to children.” Shouldn’t this be at the heart of teaching anything? I think so. Then her final thought: “You know enough. Trust yourself and ignore others who say you don’t.”
Finally, the day and the conference came to a close with a keynote on where ideas come from by Lester Laminack. It was enchanting! He is an amazing storyteller and weaver of words. He captured my attention from the very beginning as he sat criss-cross apple sauce (can you tell I teach Kindergarten?) on the stage and spoke quietly to us. He led us through the process of getting an idea from a smell in a grocery store and ending with the book it evolved into. Throughout his talk he shared bits of the story and how each idea came to him, pieces he wrote individually into his writer’s notebook and eventually crafted into a full story. It was both inspiring and peaceful to listen to Lester speak about his way of tuning into the details of everyday life happening around him.
What an amazing 2 ½ days of inspiration and encouragement. I built on understandings, added ideas to my “teacher toolbox” and established new relationships over good food and great learning. I met people I felt like I already knew…my people, my blogging friends. I listened to outstanding presentations from the heart of amazing people. I stood next to people I look up to and consider mentors (whether they know it or not) and had great conversations with them. I came away recharged for next year and believing, as Penny Kittle said, that I know enough to make a difference in my student’s lives. While I’m not rushing the summer or wishing it away, I’ll be ready to begin again when September arrives and there are new shiny faces sitting at my feet eager to learn and grow.