My lunch was over so I walked to the cafeteria to pick up my students. As I entered I was surprised to watch my students line up as quick as possible. Then I realized that since we have the last lunch of the school day the spring fever that has infected many of my students caused them to be in a rush. I lend over to tell one of my colleagues something, suddenly one of my boys steps out of line in annoyance. He looks up at me with urgency, “Mrs. D, we need to hurry we have writing next.” In amazement, I turn on my heels and lead my students out into the hall. They remained relatively quietly, without reminders as we walked to our classroom. This is a rarity.
The only words that were uttered in the hallway were about our writing workshop on this random Thursday afternoon. I looked at my line of students and they talked about their writing plan, characters they awaited to develop, quests they imaged for their heroes, and the lessons they wanted to teach their readers. I started to become as excited as my students about writing workshop. My class galloped up the stairs, leaving me a few steps behind. As R passed me she said, “Thank you for fitting in writing today, Mrs. D’Alessandro.” I was so appreciative of that statement, because of the multiple standardized tests, field trips, assemblies, and being pulled away from the class for meetings, has done a number on our teaching and learning time the past few weeks.
As I turned the corner and walked into our classroom, all the students were waiting for me on the rug. They all turned to look at me and one student spoke out. “Please, put your lunchbox away later. Let’s do the mini lesson. I just want to write.” I obeyed and dropped everything on my desk, and took my chair next to the easel and away we went. During the mini lesson I realized my students took in so much of what Jess Carey and I taught them this year. Their conversations exceeded my expectations, they tied in lessons throughout the year from both reading and writing workshop. I was a sponge absorbing their knowledge, realizing they did not need me anymore. A solemn, but wonderful feeling.
I spent the rest of the workshop conferring with my students, listening to them share, and just watching them write. While I conferred with a student he explained his piece. “This is a story I would want to read. Like you said. It’s like, I am playing with the character. Like, making him better. It’s cool.” With a little more than two weeks of school left my students did not look at writing workshop as work, but as a time to create. On this random Thursday afternoon, my students made me the proudest teacher ever.