I prepped my lessons. I prepped my materials. I even cleaned up a bit in my room.
I set the stage for my students. I told them we would have visitors who wanted to see what we did during reading time. They wanted to see what I was teaching and how we were learning together. I explained that they may sit by them, talk to them, ask them questions, or listen to them read, and I explained that mostly they were watching me because I didn't want the kids to feel uncomfortable with anything. I told them that they were teachers and a principal from another school who wanted to come learn with us.
First, the smiled. Then, the started to wiggle. Next, they began to bounce. "When do they come? How many people? Will the listen to me? Can I read to them? Do they want to see our writing folder too? Do they know about our book boxes?"
I was excited by their excitement. I didn't really think they would be so pleased to have visitors. We have had visitors earlier in the year and they enjoyed the extra adult attention but I guess I didn't realize just how much!
In the last few weeks we have been STRUGGLING with behavior. I was honestly a little nervous about the visit, not because of being observed but because of the behaviors I was afraid I would have to deal with during the observation. No one wants to do that with an audience.
But, I was very pleasantly surprised. My kiddos were rock stars! The only reminders I needed to give were minor and very few. I was proud of them.
The observation went well all around. The lesson went well, the independent practice went well, the small group went well, the independent reading went well, the literacy centers went well. The visitors seemed pleased. I was pleased. They left the room at 10:45. At 10:46, three kiddos fell apart. At 10:47, several more followed their lead.
At 10:48, my "teacher voice" came back out and we were full out back to the the STRUGGLE again.
I took a deep breath, felt grumpy, and threw in the towel. I thought, if they could hold it together so well for an hour observation, why couldn't they hold it together all the time?
And then I thought again.
They held it together for an hour long observation and that was amazing, especially for this crew who has challenged me and pushed the limits of everything every minute of every day of this whole year. I took another deep breath and this time when I threw in the towel, it was because these kids had worked hard and I recognized that they were ready for a break.
So, I reached for the tried and true. The gray and pink. The Elephant and Piggie. I reached for Mo. These kiddos love Mo Willems (who am I kidding? I love him too!) and all his funny books. I grabbed a book we hadn't read yet, settled into my chair, and felt every little body lean in toward me. We enjoyed every second of that book together and by the end of the first page I had those kiddos back into the palm of my hand...or maybe Mo did. ;)
Either way, we were calm and ready to head to lunch by the end of the book. When we returned to the room after lunch and recess, the kids surprised me again.
"Are we having visitors this afternoon too?"
"Can people come see us tomorrow too?"
"When will we have visitors again?"