Slice of Life: Teacher Gifts

It’s time of Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Thanks to Ana, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Stacey and Tara for a place to share our writing and our lives. Read more slices here.
11454297503_e27946e4ff_hA Monday, that faces a day-off Tuesday, makes students a bit off. I made room for that kind of day, planned for it. But there were some unexpected things.

I walked into the office, to distribute paperwork to boxes and desks, to pick up post its and pens; and in the small reception area, usually filled parents and student in transit, are a group of teachers.  I remember hearing something about being observed, but I guess it didn’t process as happening today.

I’m introduced as a “guru” of reading/writing workshop. Uh oh. Gulp. Good thing I didn’t know they were coming. I would have stressed. Now I’m just stressed in the moment, which is the good kind of stress. The stress that you don’t over think. The stress that helps in the moment and you just do.

The day was filled with the usual:


read aloud, amazing thoughts,

readers workshop, small groups,

writing, reflections, one-on-one conferring,


whole group,


lack of tech,



social studies,

good independent decisions,

bad behavior



in between.

The classroom just kind of moves from one thing to the next. Not perfect, ever. There are bumps. We got off course, maneuvered back. Some good moments, some things that didn’t work.  The students were who they are everyday. The thing that amazed me were how perceptive these teachers were. They “got” my students. They conferred, took notes, took pictures, listened in.

At recess we talked a bit.  And then back to the classroom, for my second group.

At the end of the day,

I found an envelope in my box,

and a purple Uniball pen.

After cleaning the room,

charging the iPads,

collecting some notebooks,

bags packed,

I opened

the note.

I was speechless.

What she said in her lovely hand written not hit on what mattered most to me.  She saw the work, the content sure, but she also saw all the rough edges. The reality of getting students to do the work of reading and writing. It is not Pinterest perfect. It’s real and messy. She saw work that was not complete, that was in process as valuable.  She saw students being pushed to independence. Really? You noticed? .

Teachers who notice the stuff that matters, and say so.

What a gift to have and to give.

Thank you.


11 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Teacher Gifts

  1. The gift of a note…The gift of noticing…So wonderful.
    I liked this: “It is not Pinterest perfect. It’s real and messy.”

  2. How awesome was that – you had an ordinary day, filled with all the ordinary “stuff” of learning by thinking and doing, but someone perceptive saw all the extraordinary “stuff” it takes to make a classroom hum and buzz with what is real and true learning. Bravo all around.

  3. Congratulations to that teacher for noticing and for sharing her observations! Congratulations to your students for learning in that messy and important way! And congratulations to YOU for being the facilitator of it all!! I love the “not Pinterest perfect”!! That shows me that the learning really & truly belongs to the students! You are wonderful! How I wish I could be in one of those groups to stop in and observe!! 🙂

  4. Julieanne,
    Now I can’t wait to see your student examples of learning! How great that observers for the day can understand, note, and thank you for the “behind the curtain” look at a real-life classroom! It’s not “Pinterest perfect” and shouldn’t be!

    See you next week!

  5. That sounds like a teacher you’d like to know better, Julieanne. I’m sure you did what you always do, move through the day as you described & it was messy, but still great learning and process, but also stressful with visitors. Lovely to have someone acknowledge your expertise, “guru” teacher!

  6. Authentic is the word that entered my mind as I read of your day and your visitors. They saw what it looks like when the learning is authentic and tailored to what your students need now, not what a textbook company says. I love the introduction to you, you are a workshop guru and now you may have inspired others to take that leap. What a special gift you’ve given and received.

  7. Real and sweet. I think it is important for others to see the every day not the picture perfect scenes of a classroom life. I wish I had had a chance to be there observing too.

  8. “Not perfect ever.” Isn’t that the truth! But perfection isn’t our goal, is it? As you say, it’s “getting students to do the work of reading and writing…being pushed to independence.” This is what we work toward everyday. Congratulations to you and your students!

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