There are days in my teaching career when everything seems to fall into line. The students are engaged, my lesson goes well, I even have the energy to go through everyone’s Inquiry notebooks, I find a great article for a unit of study.
Yesterday I found one of those moments in the most unexpected of places. You see, it’s report card pick-up week (translation…10 minute parent conferences) and that means it’s book fair week. My students burst through the door Monday morning asking, “When do we go to the book fair? Do we go today?” They were thrilled that we would be attending right after lunch, while I was mentally shuffling my afternoon schedule around trying to make up for the lost 30 minutes. It’s not that I don’t like the book fair, I get excited about books as much as the next person. It just seems like the kids are more interested in the posters and funny pencils than the books sometimes.
When I picked my students up from lunch they were practically vibrating. I cringed as they herded into the small room and started grabbing books voraciously. Then I decided to just let them have their fun and I stood back and watched. What I saw was my students putting all of those things I had been teaching them about book selection to use! They were browsing titles, talking to each other about recommendations, reading the back of the book and a few pages. My students were applying classroom lessons to the real world.
I started to listen more closely. Students who rarely interacted were stepping up to say things like, “don’t buy that, I have it at home you can borrow it. Buy this one, you’ll really like it.” I noticed that yes, some of them were looking at the posters and smelly erasers, but most of them had passed those items right by and went straight for the books. They were acting as I always hoped they would, as a community of readers.
Sometimes teaching zen is well planned and sometimes it just happens. Yesterday afternoon at 12:30, as the sun shown and the crisp fall air whipped the brown leaves around the playground, I saw a beautiful thing; twenty-eight children living like readers. Now that’s Zen.
To read more slices of life go to Two Writing Teachers.