I had the opportunity to meet with a great group of teachers from my district as part of an ongoing book study based on Sibberson’s and Smuziak’s Day to Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop and Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All by Debbie Diller. We are also working with Jennifer Allen’s video Literature Study Groups All Year Long.
I will admit I am a little biased, as I used to work with this specific group of teachers for years before entering my current position as Curriculum Coordinator. It is so interesting getting to work with different groups of teachers. Not that I should be surprised by this, but just like your class from year to year, each grade level of teachers has their own unique group personality. Today’s group has invested a great deal of time building their community (or personality), and even though each is an individual, and may disagree on instructional delivery, all agree that while teaching is a very hard job, it is easier done in conjunction with supportive and collegial teammates.
Every Friday you will find that one of the extended team (8 classroom teachers, 2 intervention specialist, an aide, guidance counselor, etc.) has prepared a delicious lunch for the rest of the team. holiday decorations, cute paper plates, and a table covering of some sort are often in evidence. Of course it’s a lot of work to cook for a group, but to be able to just come and enjoy the other 11 Fridays is a great trade-off.
Most other days you’ll find the parts of the grade level, eating, grading, talking in a quiet little room named “The Dirty Dish” (I’m sure I don’t need to explain the double entendre to you). Only rule-no nastiness. It’s okay to cry, take your outer layer off because it is too darn hot, eat more M & M’s than is good for you, but not okay to be “nasty”.
I know there are some who believe it’s better to maintain a professional distance, but after hours of teaching in your own little box, it feels good to come out and be in the warmth of adult companionship.
This same sense of community that the teachers have built for each other is also carried over into the community built with the students of this grade level. But that needs to be the next story, or I won’t ever finish the post.