Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Rereading Allen's, Conferring The Keystone to Reader's Workshop, I am reminded of Patrick's 'early' days. The days of just beginning to think about the teacher-student relationship. Do you remember when you first became a teacher? You might have been a five year old teaching your younger sibling your new understanding of how to tie a shoe. Or maybe you just graduated from college holding your Education degree tight in your hand, finally able to breathe, thinking,'now' I am a teacher. Go back, do you remember your beginning reading conferences? I remember mine and Allen's. He sat behind his half table with his group of students, and I worked with another group out in the hall. Students read, we asked questions, i.e.; who is the main charactor, where does the story take place? This process of a conferencing didn't last very long! The conference was missing something, like missing the vanilla in a favorite cake recipe. The conferences were dry, no life, no breath. Patrick began to grow. He studied others, he practiced, he reflected upon his practice and he brought me along with him on this journey. Then we talked kids and now we continue to talk kids. One thing I know of Patrick is Patrick really wants to know what his students are thinking and to get at thinking Patrick waits for thinking. Patrick teaches like he fathers his four children and like his parenting has grown so has his teaching. Visitors come and the say, "I can't do this, and Patrick says,"Just begin." Allen teaches us the difference between conference and conferring. He teaches us about the power of mentorship. He teaches us to think deeply, which in today's educational climate, is not of great import from the beliefs of the powers that be. Patrick confers shoulder to shoulder to collect data, assess the data, and teach, over and over and over! Patrick respects every child as if he/she is his own. Student's can't escape his presence-students don't 'play' school in Patrick's room. Together students and teacher set the tone and expectation. Each student knows they are valued, knows that their thinking is the thinking that will change the world and often times one of the students is the teacher and Patrick is the student. As a teacher Patrick shares the stage with all learners. Patrick and I have traveled many miles through our careers together-from his humble half table conferences to his shoulder to shoulder conferring and all the 'ways' in between, Patrick is a mentor-model for me to continue to never stagnate, to hone my practice through talk with mentors, to continue to practice with students always in my forefront, and to have the confidence to stand up for my beliefs in all aspects of life-