This picture was taken at the end of the school day. Notice who is looking tired and who is looking bright as sunshine.
I LOVE visiting the classrooms of my friends (that goes for Katie aka Mrs. Lufkin, too). You know someone in a certain setting. You can see him/her as a person who empties the dishwasher or drives a car or likes to order steak. You may even know how that person likes the steak. But nothing prepares you for watching how that individual steers a classroom of kids toward learning. It is like trying to organize lint in the bathtub — every kid comes in with a separate agenda. How a single teacher gathers the group and gets them focused is like watching a magician — the polar opposite of how I felt when I once saw my algebra teacher at the movies with a date — OMG, she had another life outside of school!
I loved visiting Steve Czerniejewski’s fifth grade classroom. I have known Steve for 12 years as part of the traveling troop of teachers working with the Janet Allen Literacy Institutes. As a group, we’ve hiked in Alaska, picnicked in Arizona, sweated in Baltimore, swatted mosquitoes in Florida, watched the sunset in San Diego, toured in D.C., sucked down lobster rolls in Maine and gotten lost in more cities than we can count. But, I’d never been to where he does his teaching thing. As soon as I arrived, I knew it was going to be good.
The kids all checked themselves in, committed themselves to learning by moving a clothes pin on a chart and set to work solving a math problem on the board that had me stumped. Okay, here it is:
What number is a multiple of 80 and 100.
It is a square number.
It is less than 500 and more than 100.
Solve that, and you are officially as smart as a fifth grader. The kids worked independently and then discussed the possibilities, solving the problem and setting the stage for a successful day.
Decorating the widows were poetic reflections — pictures and textual responses to my poems where the kids used crayons and words to make connections. They were ALL great — much better than my ability to take pictures into the light — here are just a couple that came out clear enough to see. Click on the pictures to see them up close.
Extra bonus: I got to meet Steve’s gorgeous, charming, smart family. I always thought he was just flashing around the pictures that came with his wallet — but Kim and Carissa are real and they are really wonderful.
To Kim, Carissa, Mr. CZ and all of his students — xxoo