This school year, our school has had the privilege of being the host for teachers visiting from a neighboring school district. This past week, two teams came to visit the Reading and Writing Workshops in our grade two and four classrooms. After observing the classrooms, we invited our classroom teachers to join our visitors for a debrief.
Today, we reflected on these visits during our bi-weekly Literacy Cabinet meeting, in a segment we like to call “celebrations.” Our principal noted the impact the visit had on our school and the teachers’ classrooms that we visited. “It’s like having company over,” Dawn chimed in. “You clean up and try to make it your best.”
“The debrief was my favorite part,” I reflected. “Hearing the teachers share about the work we are doing here and the purpose behind our practice…it was just great.”
During the debrief, a visiting teacher asked, “But when do you publish the writing pieces? How do you fit in so many units of study and find time to create published pieces?”
I paused, waiting. Carolyn, one of our second grade teachers, jumped right in.
“We’ve learned the value of kids creating multiple pieces of writing within a unit. Having multiple chances to go through the writing process gives multiple opportunities for practice. So when I look through a students’ writing, I can see how their pieces have developed across the unit. We’ve learned to celebrate the process,” Carolyn explained.
Meanwhile, I sat speechless, my heart swelling.
“I’ve been teaching a long time,” Carolyn continued. “But I’ve learned to be open to change. I’ve had to let go of the way I did things, but I’ve learned a lot in the process.”
Volume has been an issue we have been discussing and tackling since I came to the school five years ago. This response was not only perfect, but it was genuine. As Carolyn shared, I felt her belief in the words and in the process.
This experience has further solidified in my mind, the value of visiting classrooms, within and outside of our own schools. It also opened my eyes to the value of hosting these types of cross school visits. I believe that our teachers were empowered as they got to be the ones to articulate and share their own practices. I’m grateful for these moments to be an observer.