Saturday, March 5, 2016

SOLSC #5 How do you remember?

During the month of March, I am participating in
the Slice of Life Story Challenge.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for thirty-one days. My slices will be primarily about teaching preschoolers.
Check out the Two Writing Teachers website for many more reflections on teaching.

I was observing her read-aloud, sitting on the carpet with the children, one preschooler cozy in my lap and my journal on my thigh, taking notes, to help her with her teaching. My plan was to capture what she said in addition to the book text - her questions, her explanations, and the ensuing conversations. My notes will be feedback for the beginning teacher, but, amusingly, there isn't much there to report - not because of the teacher, but because of my note-taking. First, I printed clearly the name of the child on my lap, because I felt his eyes penetrating my note-taking, and I was curious if he could read his name; he smiled at me, and I smiled back. Then, I began to write down the beginning teacher's questions. Moments into the read-aloud, I shifted my focus from the teacher to another student, a wily preschooler, and my notes tell what she was looking at, who she was disturbing, where she crawled over to, what she started playing with...I wondered, what engages this little girl? What is she thinking about? Then my notes abruptly turned into a tally of the chairs in my classroom - there was a special event in another room the evening before, and some of my chairs are missing, did we have enough chairs for everyone to sit down at lunch? My notes are like a dog on a walk, "squirrel! squirrel!", onto a new possibility every few moments.

I love my school journal - a simple notebook. I carry this notebook with me all the time, writing notes in it each day, taking it out of my backpack first thing each morning, setting goals for the day, carrying it as I work with children, alongside my small groups, in and out of meetings, jotting down ideas, keeping it at the ready to make reminders from administrators, families, colleagues, to remember something I observed, to capture that great quote of the child...on and on. Yes, it is a real mix of my school year, of my day, and, probably, a real mess to the untrained eye. (Anyone other than me!) It has been a gold mine for my blogging, for all my writing, helping me document in real time a myriad of interesting details.

I like to think that it helps me see everything more clearly. Funny how messy that clarity can look.


  1. I like to think that it helps me see everything more clearly. Funny how messy that clarity can look. These are great lines! A notebook has so much power and can really help us in so many ways, internally and externally. Thank you for sharing about your experience.

  2. Personally, your notes probably jog your memory into a myriad of other details, Maureen. I love the squirrel analogy, used to call this "mind moves" with my students. I didn't take notes except at the end of the day, what I wanted to remember, goals to be sure to meet the next day. I wish I'd noted more, admire that you keep it with you always.