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-


  1. Randi,

    What a nice reflection. It must be great to have so much history with a teammate. It must also be nice to have someone to share your ideas and thinking with. I am sure that you both prodded each other to grow, reflect and develop as teachers. It is inspirational to read about your relationship. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Randi,
    I was so excited to hear your were joining our blog chat. After reading the first part of Patrick's book I sent him a message on Twitter to find out if any of the knowledgeable colleagues he had discussed were on Twitter. He speaks so highly of you that I was thrilled to see you were on Twitter. When you sent a note saying you were going to join us I was ecstatic. We read what Patrick has to say (and I've been lucky enough to hear him speak), but you know what his classroom looks like and how he works with children. When I read your post above I thought, "That is exactly what I thought Patrick would be like as an educator." I look forward to learning more from you here --- and on Twitter.


  3. Randi,
    So fun to see your name on the list of folks who were participating in the blog chat. The relationship that you and Patrick have seems really, really special. It seems like the two of you really do push each other's thinking- I know he is going to really, really miss having you right there next to him in the classroom. Hoping you will do more blogging, so we can keep learning from you.

    Your early conferences sounded a lot like me. Except I think mine were actually more like inquisitions than conferences! Hopefully I have gotten a lot better at it, although I don't think I will ever have the skill that you and Patrick have.

    Great to hear from you!

  4. Randi, What a wonderful piece of writing you have given us about Patrick. It was so reassuring to read about the beginning and knowing it's a journey everyone takes. So glad you've joined our blog chat and can't wait to read more from someone who has journeyed along the side of Patrick Allen.

  5. Randi,

    I just read Patrick's post about you on Two Writing Teachers last Friday, so it was fun to read your reflective post about him. It is so apparent through Conferring and his posts that you have had such an impact on him, and through your post I know that it was a great working relationship with so much growth on both sides. Seems like you two were both very lucky to have worked together for so long.

  6. Randi~
    Your post and Patrick's post speak so much to the depth of your journey together. I am so happy to have you as a part of our #cyberchat! Thanks for sharing I am looking forward to reading more.

  7. Thank you for sharing your journey with Patrick as growing teachers. I'm entering my third year of teaching and it's comforting to know that the people i look up to have changed and evolved to become better at what they do. I want to be great now but i need to step back and realize that i can be great with my current knowledge and understanding. I look forward to reading more of your reflections.