Last Friday was the monthly meeting of our school system’s reading specialists.Â We received word earlier in the week thatÂ our agendaÂ included meetingÂ at one of the elementary schools, visiting theÂ classrooms and making observations following a protocol on balanced literacy.Â Â The principal of the school and several teachers had visited the Manhattan New School last spring, and had come back all fired up about their literacy program.Â They were eager to show off what they had accomplished since that visit.Â And they had reason to be proud.Â The school’s literacy program was impressive.
However, I’m only two years out of the regular education classroom, and so I am fully aware of how the majority of the classroom teachers likely felt about our invasion.Â A Friday – a Veterans’ Day program planned, and they have to deal with twenty strangers coming in and out of their classrooms for a couple hours – knowing that the strangers would discuss what they saw with the principal and county curriculum director.Â My sympathies were with the classroom teachers.Â I felt GUILTY going into their classrooms.
However, I had my assignment, too.Â So with printed protocol in hand, I visited classrooms.Â When I was in the second/third grade hall, they were gone to the Veterans Day program.Â Â So I only visited kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade and fifth grade classes.
My favorite lesson was in a fourth grade classroom.Â They were reading Sign of the Beaver – one ofÂ my favorite children’s books – and the classroom discussion was phenomenal.Â The children and teacher had an authentic andÂ thoughtfulÂ discussion about the book. They were making connections and predictions.Â I enjoyed being there and listening.
Another positive thing the teachers had done was that beside each hall display, they had the state standards for that activity written out. I thought it was an excellent way to remind the children, parents and teachers of why various the activities had been planned.
During the course of my observations, I left a couple notes for teachers – complimenting them on something I liked about their classrooms and thanking them for letting me visit.Â It was a good day, and I learned several things that I will take back to my own school.Â Â However, Â I wonder if I only imagined the sigh of relief I heard when the twenty of us exited the building at noon.