"Writers...show me the colors of your eyes. You've got to hear the poem Noah just wrote. 'Sharks are like a man-eating beast with razor-sharp teeth that tear fish apart. Duh duh duh duuuuuh.' Don't you just love how he used words like 'man-eating beast' and 'razor-sharp teeth?' Oh, and the end. 'Duh duh duh duuuuuh.' It gives me chills! I'm sure you want to be just like Noah and make smart decisions about the words you choose in your poems, too. I know you can. Go for it!"
Regie is right. I do my best teaching when I celebrate students, and Noah's story is one of my favorite celebratory moments to tell. (And I wish you could hear me share it in person. Though it sounds flat on the page, it's actually special to hear what it sounded like to a first grader's ears.) As you can imagine, Noah was on cloud nine when I interrupted writing workshop to share his poem, and the rest of the students were motivated to pick up their pens and try out some of Noah's awesomeness. That kind of celebration can change a writer...forever.
"Celebrate. Celebrate. Celebrate." These are the words typed into the first few weeks of my lesson plans this year. As the Idaho Coaching Network has taught me, there is something special about consistent corporate celebrations, and my goal is to infiltrate my days with more of them.
I'm challenged to "make them all feel famous," as Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome suggest in Kids Deserve It! The mathematician who taught us a more efficient drawing strategy, the non-writer who demonstrated how to brilliantly think through the pictures in his story, the writer who showed us how much more powerful she is when she uses her new reading skills in her writing, the reluctant reader who told me he could read a book all by himself and then showcased his reading for the whole class. They were famous this last week. I can't help but believe the trajectory of their learning paths was positively affected without much effort on my part. All it took was celebration — my best teaching.