Making space for talk.

Our days are busy. Most days it feels like we are rushing from one place to another. When we are home, we are preparing for another time and place. Often, the most settled time of our day is the four to six minute drive to and from our house to my parents’ house, where I drop off and pick up the girls each day.

Sometimes they ask for the music on high as they sing along to their favorite songs. Other times, we never put the radio on and we ride in the quiet, each thinking about the day ahead or behind us. Still other times, we talk. Sometimes I ask the girls to share something they are grateful for or if it’s after school they share important moments from their day.

On Thursday, we had a rocky start getting out of the door. The weather was chillier and everyone would have preferred snuggling in their cozy beds rather than hear my constant coaxing and demands- “Come get your hair done!” “Now get your shoes.” “Adi, get up! It’s time to go.”

When everyone was finally buckled into the car, the mood was tense and I knew that this was no way to start our day. As we pulled out of the driveway, into the still dark morning, the car lights sliced into the thick black yard where I spotted something move. The car still in reverse, I stopped to let the lights shine towards the movement. “A bunny,” I exclaimed.

“There are two!” Adi said spotting another. “They’re chasing each other!”

We sat watching until both rabbits disappeared into the dark.

As we began our short journey, we looked in the usual bunny spots for others. At the corner of Old Spring and Freeman we saw a bunny munching on some predawn grass. Then, as we stopped at a stop sign and turned, the lights of the car caught another bunny as it disappeared into a backyard.

“It’s a bunny morning,” I said, thinking aloud. “Maybe someone could write the story of this car ride today.”

“I’m still finishing my music teacher book,” Adi said.

“Maybe it could be your next book,” I said. “How would it go?”

We continued drafting aloud until we pulled into my parents’ driveway.

Moments like this remind me of the importance of providing plenty of opportunities for kids to talk. Our Teacher College Staff Developer, Liz Franco, met with our K-2 teams last week and reminded us:

Writing is talking first. Hear first, during read read aloud. Next comes oral rehearsal, the practice of storytelling. Then we are ready to write. We need to coach language muscles before we can expect to see it on the page.

Since the beginning of the school year, I’ve been quietly studying where talk lives in our school day. I’ve sat through mini lessons, read alouds, phonics workshops, independent reading and writing sessions, and book club conversations. In my mind, I’ve mapped the conversation, where is the talking happing? Who is doing the majority of the talking? How could we make small changes to invite even more talk and what impact might that have on engagement, thinking during reading, the writing our students produce, and on relationships in our classrooms?

I’ll let you know as I keep working this one out.

 

7 thoughts on “Making space for talk.

  1. Love the “it’s a bunny morning” – nothing like a little nature to slow us down and remind us of what matters. I think we could all study talk – talking with colleagues and with kids and embedded in that talk is the art of listening and growing from that talk! I am finding this incredibly valuable with some fourth graders. I’m seeing kids build comprehension and I’m also finding recording the talk as a means of assessment! Let’s keep talking about talk! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Mmm… I love the way your talk turns a tense morning into a happier one. And how talk becomes story. I’ve been telling my high schoolers that “writing floats on a sea of talk” as they try their hand at narratives and persuasion. Funny how it doesn’t change all that much over the years. Even for me… if I find the time, today’s slice will be a story I’ve already told in various ways this week. Talk is important, indeed.

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  3. We were on the same wavelength again. My slice was all about a talk. I think you’re so right, though, that the good talk is what allows kids (and adults) to have their writing flow. My only exception is that I can’t really talk to someone when I’m in mid-draft. It’s as though it lets the air out of the balloon, takes away the urgency of the writing…but I suppose that’s a different story.

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  4. This is so interesting! Your slice brings me to consider where the talk lives in our days. My 11 y-o & I have our moments, usually at dinner, sometimes at breakfast. I also think about how I have perceived particularly verbal children as those who have encountered listening ears in their lives. When we listen, we create avenues for talk to grow and develop. Thanks for prompting my thinking on this.

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  5. Keep savoring those moments in the car … they are precious and will guide you in the years ahead. I love the idea of a bunny morning! And thank you for sharing Liz’s quote – gives me the affirmation I need to keep singing my song!

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