Thursday, December 20, 2007


Heavens, it's the holidays. (Thank you for this beautiful present, Sarah!) All routine goes out the window in December, and life as we know it is suspended until January. And, right here in Atlanta, it's snowing! Over at One Pomegranate you can read the story. It's mind- boggling what we'll do here for a little holiday spirit.

I can't even concentrate on telling you the rest of the Canterbury Woods story. So I'll just sketch for you here some of the notes I took while I was there. Pretend it's a connect the dots game and you'll be fine.

From a handwritten list on chart paper in the gym (where I did all-grade presentations my first day). How many of these techniques do I use/talk about/teach? Most. Here they are:

--vocabulary instruction
--high-level questions
--note taking
--small group instruction
--cooperative learning
--technology used by teachers and students alike
--assessment and remediation

Cathy Case, sixth-grade teacher, was brave enough to sit down with me after day one and tell me, after my session with her kids, what "hit" for her students... and what didn't. From that conversation, I rearranged and punted in a different direction the next day. Better. Much better. This is team teaching -- I could hear her, she could tell me. We're both confident in our abilities, we both want to learn how to do even better, we each respect the other's skills. I was able to point out to her some of the more subtle things I was doing, using children's literature, to reach her students -- things she could expound on in the classroom later. And she was able to tell me how to better reach her particular classroom of learners. Excellent.

These two boys are doing what I call the talking/listening part of writing their stories. Hands in the yoga of writing. One talker/reader, one active listener. They will reverse roles next.

There is cognitive coaching going on here at Canterbury Woods. Collaboration. And -- this is important -- people LISTEN here. I was amazed at how much meaningful conversation I had with Barbara Messinger, the principal (in some schools I never even meet the principal), and how many times, during a conversation with any given team member, I realized I was being heard. Really listened to. This is no small thing. It means children are being heard, too. As I saw how intently I was being listened to, I immediately thought to sharpen my own listening skills. This is how it works.

Terminology used at Canterbury Woods that I will incorporate into my classroom management techniques:

Six-inch voices
knees to knees (eyes to eyes)
If you can hear me, clap once (twice, three times)
sometimes we could look for...

From Matt Radigan, from his Teach for America experience:
"Work smarter, not harder"
and more:
Thumbs up/down
Fist of five (four, three, etc.)

Overall, I learned so much here because faculty and staff are not afraid to say what they see, to ask high-level questions, to listen, and to learn. It's a dream for me, as I am always asking, always reaching, always wanting to learn, the perpetual student. It was a great teaching experience.

Back to your regularly scheduled holidays... but you haven't heard the last from me this year! Still working on One Pomegranate, still fiddling with the look and feel of it, still finding my voice.

Thanks so much for all the mail, y'all. I am slow to respond, but I carry you all in my heart -- I do. I'm a sketchy personal correspondent, I admit it. I appreciate all you have to say about the blog -- both blogs -- and I'm glad you'll come with me as I continue blogging on One Pomegranate. Thanks.

And now I need an egg nog.