Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Slice of Life Twelve -Talk in the Classroom

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a Slice A Day.

I was talking to a colleague today and she asked how my class was doing. I said something to the effect of…

They’re fabulous. Chatty, but they always are.

And as I walked away, I thought about that statement. I’ve heard myself say it before. Come to think of it, I’ve heard myself say it almost every year for the past fifteen years. Hmm…

One of my students joked recently that Taylor Swift has broken up with so many guys, at some point you have to look at the common factor. I think the same could be said for the climate of my classroom. Do I really get the “chatty” kids every year or are they chatty because they’re in my room?

My friend recently commented on her own classroom. She said it was alive with noise – like a party that they are all invited to. I completely get that. It’s not that I like disorder – that makes me a bit anxious. I like conversation. Silence has its moments, but sometimes it’s hard to get them to be silent when they’re used to talking. There are days that I wish - I might beg if it would help – that my students would talk a little less. (Like today.) When it comes down to it, though, I can’t function in silence.

When I walk by classrooms that are so quiet you could here a pin drop, I marvel. How does that work? What did the teacher do so that would happen? And then I return to my classroom. There is a quiet hum. Sometimes the hum increases and I have to tame the roar, but when my students grin at me and make a comment, I have to smile.

Some examples of conversations I have heard recently - 
Two students discussing the Maximum Ride series - what is going to happen to the Flock?
One student said, “Finally! I was waiting for them to return to Jason’s point of view.” (He was reading Lost Hero and talking to himself.)
A few students were gathered at a table as they created a story – drawing pictures and writing up descriptions. They talked as they worked.
Two boys were singing some song – no idea of what it was – as they worked on homework.
One group was in a conversation of what type of writing constitutes a slice for our Slice of Life project.
Two of my students were “shopping” the bookshelves with a student from another class, helping them find a book. I overheard the questions – What genre do you want to try? And What is the last book you’ve read that you loved?

My class is chatty - but I think that's a good thing. During lessons we turn and talk - it helps us to clarify our thinking. During independent reading and writing, our talk decreases but is still there if you need a book recommendation or some advice. I don't believe I am alone in thinking that all of this "talk" has benefits. Donalyn Miller had a great quote this weekend at MRA that I tweeted:

So no, you will not find my students sitting quietly at their desks most days. You will find them sprawled around the classroom – at tables, on the floors, lying across furniture. And you will hear them talking. They can’t help it, and either can I. Our classroom is a party I’m glad I was invited to. I don’t think I would have it any other way.