I’m sure you’ve seen the poster about “Everything I learned in life, I learned in Kindergarten.” ‘Sharing’ was undoubtedly one of those things. In fact, learning to share starts even before that. Two of my grandchildren are two years old and we constantly remind them about sharing nicely. When Reilly starts to complain at the pool because a little boy is using her watering can, I say, “Remember we brought those toys to share.” And when Brenna lays on top of 100 legos trying to guard them with her life, her mom says, “Lincoln came over to play with you, Brenna, so you have to share your toys.”
Sharing. It’s one of the reasons I love teaching so much. Teachers are famous for sharing. They share ideas, materials, books, lessons, quotes, and so on. In other careers or businesses, it might be all about competition — who made the most sales this month or who has the best, new, innovative idea? But teaching is much more about collaboration and sharing than competition (or, at least, it should be!)
Lucy Calkins once shared an idea with me by signing my copy of her book, The Art of Teaching Writing, many years ago. She wrote, “…and when you get there, there is no there there.” Now, granted, she may have written that to 100 others, but I got her message. It helped me stay a learner all these years. And it suggested to me that I should never think I have all the answers, but should remain open and tentative about what I believe the teaching of reading should be. I use that example to show that sometimes just sharing a saying or quote can mean a lot to a teacher.
Just the other day, on this blog, Katie wrote about sharing what you are reading. She shared a few professional books on her pile this summer. I’m sure more than a few teachers took note of her recommendations. Also, have you noticed all the fantastic literacy blogs lately? They are usually nothing more than a teacher sharing his/her thoughts, ideas, and reflections. There’s never enough time to read them all, but I encourage you to sign up for a few. And they’re FREE.
I just finished What Readers Really Do by Barnhouse and Vinton from Heinemann. It’s excellent. My favorite parts of the book are the charts that they put at the end of some chapters: What we used to do/ What we do now. I’m always interested in the shifts in teachers’ thinking as they learn and grow.
While reading the text, I was reminded of the idea that Katie and I tried to sort out in Catching Readers Before They Fall. Having concerns about some of the strategy teaching we’d seen, we talk about the difference between spotlighting a strategy as opposed to teaching strategies for strategy sake. We emphasize the integration factor and urge teachers to keep meaning-making front and center. Well, the authors of this new text go much further with this idea than we did. Their book is fabulous. Even though their examples are from third, fifth, and seventh grade classrooms, there is definitely something for everyone in this text. In fact, I liked it so much I emailed ten really smart teachers I know — some Literacy Collaborative folks, some K teachers, some 5th grade teachers, a university professor, a retired reading teacher — a nice mix of ages and experiences. They quickly bought it and began reading. Presently, we are picking dates to get together to share our ideas and reflections.
Teaching is all about sharing. I hope you will share an idea, reflection, book, or even just a quote with another teacher this summer. Anything you’d like to share right now? Feel free to comment.