©2020 by E. R. Smith
This memory of years ago flashed back at me during a recent teacher’s professional development lesson. The ECRES-R educational leader reminded, “Now we want to observe teachers extending ideas brought forth from your students.” She gave the example of a child talking about a recent trip to an apple orchard. She said, “Practice saying did you know and add a fact to the topic the child stated.” She gave the example, “Did you know oranges also grow on trees in orchards?” She added, “Make sure you’re responding.” I thought to myself, “But I always have done that.” I’ve never brushed off a child’s attempt at conversing with me. I listen. I remind of the topic at hand if we are pressed for time. Observers never want to see youngsters on the rug during whole group for too long. I connect their musings with factual data I may know or that I may ask Siri in a search. I was a bit offended by the assumption.
One day years ago in 2007, while learning about plants and various garden creatures; Carlos chimed, “I have have snails in my back yard!” This was kindergarten; he was so excited he was contagious. I exclaimed, “Let’s asks your mom if you can bring one to school!” Thus began our journey into learning about snails. Of course mom sent in a bowl of snails. I queried, how do we nurture them? What kind of habitat can we build for them? I borrowed gloves from the school nurse so we could all examine them if we chose to do so. We used the words diagrams, life cycles, diet, habitats, foliage, while discussing our plans for our new pets. I like to build vocabulary naturally, explaining that some words are just bigger than simple words. Habitat means home or house. Diet is the food we eat. Diagrams are pictures. At the end of each unit students sound more and more intellectual. That’s metamorphosis is priceless to me.
Our culminating activity was to put together a book of our current events. Carlos was so proud to know he had authored our first non fiction text. We used the picture below as our cover page, drawing on and supporting book handling awareness.
Sometimes when I attend a professional development session, I wish educational coaches would share their positive observations. I want to hear about the other Ms. Frizzle’s in the world. I’ve always modeled myself for this mythical Magic School Bus character. We teachers would then learn more about what we can do; rather than what we shouldn’t.