One of the great things about being a facilitator is I get to travel all over the city and see the wonderful things that teachers are doing to engage children in learning. Many times I find teachers from the same grade level, but different schools, who are teaching in similar ways. I just know they could be "soulmates". They could collaborate across the city via email. After all, if the two writing teachers can do it, why not here in our district. We have 30+ elementary schools. The curriculum is the same for all. Why not team up to make their teaching more fun and even better for the students?
Well, that is what we tried out on Friday. I got a fifth grade teacher from one school to meet with a fifth grade teacher from another school across town. I met them at 8:00 and we toured the school and classroom. When the kiddos finally arrived to the sound of music, we were situated at the back of the room so we could view the arrival. After the pledge and moment of silence another song played out: Celebration. The students slowly, but with determination, made their way to the gathering area in the center of the room. They sat in what I like to call "mashed potato" formation...in a big group. This was the time for the Morning Meeting. They discussed changes in the day, celebrations for the kids who made A.C.E.S. this quarter and what the schedule would be for the day. The Read Aloud time came next. The teacher would read and the students listened until she came to a stopping point. At that time, they would turn and talk to someone near them. The noise level was up a bit here because they ALL had something to say. Soon, the teacher called them back to the group and asked someone to lead off the discussion. Boy, did they talk! Not with the teacher leading it...oh, no, it was entirely student led. Then at a stopping point she began reading again. It went on like this for about 20 minutes.
When it was time for them to take a restroom break and then come back for Writer's Workshop, I left the two teachers together. I was gone for about an hour doing "my thing" around the school. As I came back into the room, I finally found the visiting teacher. She was sitting in the middle of the group fitting in as if she had always been there. I checked in with her and said my goodbyes. My job was finished. I had gotten them together, watched the beginning progression of friendship, and then left the rest up to them.
I can't wait to talk to each of them to see what they thought and what they will do with this new connection across the district! By the way, check out the two writing teachers' blog. They are presenting together in San Antonio this week for NCTE! How exciting!!!