I have found among its other benefits that giving liberates the soul of the giver.
It was early morning in an Indiana kindergarten classroom, about 30 minutes before students would arrive. Ruth Ayres and I were busy setting up video equipment, getting ready to capture some of the brilliant and funny things five-year-olds say and do every day. “Would you like some coffee or water?” Inga asked. Inga is the literacy coach who had arranged the shoot and was hosting us. We both murmured “Thanks but no” as we continued our work.
A few minutes later Inga wheeled in a cart with a freshly brewed pot of coffee, cream, sugar, and cups of ice water on it. “Just in case you change your mind,” she said.
There are offers and offerings. It’s one thing to offer refreshments. Another thing entirely to wheel them in so they are there for the taking.
I’ve observed Jen Allen lead study groups for many years here in Maine. At almost every meeting, participants enter the literacy resource room and find a little gift at each seat at the table. It might be sticky notes in the shape of quotes for a group focused on reading strategies, or small writing journals for notetaking on the go for a group exploring assessment. Sometimes it’s just pretty file folders to brighten a teacher’s day (we do love our office supplies).
Offers of help matter. But we are often too busy, distracted, or unsure to accept the offer when it is made. Offerings are in a different realm. Every time a teacher takes a seat at Jen’s table and sees their little gift, they can hear Jen saying, I thought of you and what you might need. Your presence here is a gift to me, and this is my gift to you. Offerings are a reminder to the recipient that they are seen and appreciated. And when you’re getting ready to do any kind of challenging work, it’s no small thing to begin with a gift.
This week we look at ways to improve writing share sessions. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Katrina Edwards moves her first-grade class out of a rut with writing shares by introducing many new options.
Ruth Ayres catalogs her favorite types of share sessions (from old favorites to creative innovations) in writing workshops.
Kathleen Sokolowski has compiled a treasure trove of resources and wise advice for making writing share time a priority in classrooms.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Sometimes those times when we “wing it” because we don’t have plans can lead to the most profound learning. Dana Murphy dreams up a quick circle share at the end of writing workshop, and what follows is magic.
We filmed a circle share in Dana Murphy’s classroom last month. This week’s video consists of excerpts from that share session.
Finding time for writing share sessions may begin with trying out a few different options to see what works in your classroom. Melanie Meehan presents some of her favorites.
In an encore video, Katie DiCesare’s first graders respond to their classmates’ writing, using questions they developed together over time.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
How do you coach a teacher who is feeling overwhelmed, frazzled, and unable to focus? David Pittman recommends supporting teachers with stream-of-consciousness “brain dumps” to provide clarity and purpose for your work together.
In this brief video, Jean Russell explains how she uses quotes at the start of a professional development session to read the room and launch conversations.
Stephanie Affinito shares the importance of focusing on mindset in coaching—both yours and the teacher you will be guiding.
Each person’s life is lived as a series of conversations. Deborah Tannen
That’s all for this week!