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I entered Abbey's room with my notebook and pen in hand, ready to take notes on her workshop. She wanted feedback on how engaged the kids were. She was worried that not everyone was using their time wisely. Sitting down in a first grade sized chair and equally small desk, I readied myself to take notes. I was prepared to give a reporter's account of who was doing what, wanting to give her an accurate account of her reading workshop.
And I watched magic unfold.
I found myself swept right in with the kids.
And taking notes took on a whole different spin.
How could I find the words to capture what was occurring right in front of my eyes?
I arrived as she was finishing her read aloud. She reminded her young readers that friends recommend books to each other. They decided to write a letter to Mrs. Miller's first grade telling them about the wonderful book they just read, Little Elliot Big City. Their enthusiasm grew as they chose their words, careful not to give too much away. She tore the chart paper off, folded it in fourths, and sent it along with the book down the hall.
"Today, you are going to get to recommend books to your friends," she told them as she stepped away from the share circle. "But first, I have something special for you." Six year olds sat up a little taller and tiny whispers of excitement began to spread. The whispers soon turned to happy squeals of delight as she returned with a copy paper box filled with books.
"Remember the list of books we made for the public library? Well, I reserved them and they came in. I picked them up this weekend and all weekend long, I've been waiting to share them with you. I had so much fun looking through the pile and thinking about who was going to love each book."
And then she drew books out one by one, bending in close to her little ones. Using a soft voice that grew just a bit louder as the excitement built she said,
"This one made me think of Jason."
"Anna, when I saw this one, I just knew you would love it."
And on she went. Each time she pulled out a book, oohs and aahs filled the room. Little bodies stretched up, knees glued to the floor, children not quite getting out of their spaces, but oh, so close. And I was right there with them. A box of books that the teacher got just for me? Oh my!
She sent them off to read and find new books that they could recommend to a friend. I wish words could capture the joy that I felt in that classroom. Chatter about favorite characters and series erupted. I watched the love of reading being fed and nurtured right in front of my eyes.
Later that evening I received a text from Abbey.
No apologies are necessary. This is what matters in the lives of young readers and writers.
And I love that I was invited to take it all in.