Gratitude Visits! / by Laura Gilchrist

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I had the honor of visiting and observing 3 workshop model classrooms in action at Eastgate Middle School in the North Kansas City School District recently.

The catch was this: I was observing not as a teacher but as a grateful student.

I  would then write a letter to one of the teachers sharing my student thoughts of gratitude. Jodi Hodes, Ruth Bontrager, and I visited the classrooms of Adam Anderson, Chasity Jones, and Jessica Nolin. We just spent the year together in a cohort of 30 secondary educators in North Kansas City Schools collaborating, conversing, and crafting on the Workshop Model with Cris Tovani and Sam Bennett. The gratitude visits were our culminating celebration. We all left with a positive vibe from the experience. It wasn't a 'regular' observation where we were simply looking for certain things and giving feedback to the teacher. We got to be a student for an hour and our lens was gratitude. Heck yea. All 30 of us posted our letters of gratitude to our district learning space, The Incubator, for everyone to read. We spent time reading them. Good stuff, my friends!

Here is my letter of gratitude to Jessica Nolin!

 

Dear Jessica,

Thank you so very much for letting us visit your classroom today. What a nice time Ruth, Jodi, and I had being a part of your classroom learning community. As your pretend student for the day, I would like to share the cognitive, behavioral, AND emotional engagement I experienced during my time with you in your 3rd hour!

  • I see a passion for science and for kids within the first minute of being in your room! I see the way you talk about science with big smiles and positivity. I see how you talk to kids, again with big smiles and positivity; caring that they ‘get’ science. I notice this passion, too, when looking at all the colorful photos, posters, anchor charts, and student work plastered artfully on the walls.
  • I see a passion for science and for kids within the first minute of being in your room! I see the way you talk about science with big smiles and positivity. I see how you talk to kids, again with big smiles and positivity; caring that they ‘get’ science. I notice this passion, too, when looking at all the colorful photos, posters, anchor charts, and student work plastered artfully on the walls.
  • I see that you like to be active, playful, and energetic. You move around the room. You make jokes. I loved it when you let another student feel your pulse to help show them how to find it. They smiled when you did that. J I loved it when you did the running in place with different groups and you laughed right along with them. You are energetic and fun. I like that. It makes me connect with you emotionally and behaviorally. It makes me want to be cognitively engaged as well.
  • I see that you have a sense of humor and you smile during class! That makes me want to be in here and stay in here….and learn with you; try with you.
  • I hear a positive tone of kindness and respect in your interactions with all kids. You said thank you to kids, you positively complimented them (“Very good,” “Awesome”) and you smiled at and with them all throughout class.
  • I notice front and center on the projector what I get to do during worktime. I like that you have it posted and I like that I get to research, take data on my own heart rate and compare it with other kids’ data!
  • I notice that you have a positive way of managing learning and behavior and this makes such a big difference to me and to my learning. You counted from 5 as a way of getting kids quiet and focused when you needed to do a stop and release. You did not yell! You smiled. I did not feel threatened or coerced. I wanted to be quiet when you asked because you were respectful and kind AND because I thought measuring my own heart rate was not only relevant to my life but also interesting and fun.
  • I like that I sit in tables with other kids and that I get to TALK heart rate and discuss the lab itself. Talking helps me learn!
  • I liked that you demonstrated how to do the walking and running portion of the lab. You actually walked in a circle to show us where and how to do it. You actually ran with us, and did JAZZ HANDS!! Everyone knew what to do. You want us to be successful and not confused. You want us to feel like real scientists and happy kids; you know we can’t feel like that if we are confused.
  • I notice that you give us tools so that we can work like real scientists! You ‘get’ us! You know we want to do real-world stuff. I enjoyed using the timers and the iPads to collect and communicate data.
  • I see you confer with groups and with individuals. I saw a girl go to the office and come back. When she returned to class it was during the walking part of the lab. She seemed sad. You talked with her away from everyone else and helped her. I could tell by how you talked with her; by the look on your face and your body language. We all notice that, we students. We see that you care for us. We see that you trust us and you like us. Thank you! Thank you!
  • I see you care about our data and you care what we found! You asked us about it. You asked if we had questions. You cared about US and about our SCIENCE LEARNING!
  • I noticed the BUZZ in the classroom! Kids talking, laughing, measuring, listening, recording, timing, talking, walking, running, jazz handing (!), debating, and helping each other. Thanks for letting us BUZZ! Thanks for following the Workshop Model so that WE are doing the work for most of the hour and you are talking/in-charge only briefly for, what-do-those-teachers-call-it, Catch and Releases?! Ha!
  • I had a lot of choice in class! I was able to choose how to run, walk, measure my heartrate.  I was able to talk with teammates. I was able to get help from anyone on my lab. I could move around the room. I was treated with respect; respect for me as a person and as a learner!

I will always remember my time in your classroom. I wish I could stay! How lucky your kids are to learn and laugh with you daily. :)

Sincerely, Laura, Ruth, and Jodi

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