Sometimes pleasurable little moments come when you are not trying so hard. They just happen and you become aware that something sweet and positive is revealing itself to you. Yesterday I had one of those moments. I was assisting in the second grade classroom where students were working on a writing assignment. The children were asked to write letters to a young man in the twelfth grade who had “interned” in our classroom, and who is thinking about becoming a teacher. In their letters, the students would give him suggestions, from their point of view, for how to become a great teacher.
While they worked on their “good copies”, I walked around the room, helping with spelling and proofreading as needed. Many students were eager to share with me what they had written, and to show me their careful handwriting. I enjoyed this exchange, reading their ideas and giving them advice. The students value my opinion, and I value their writing.
Upon completion of the assignment, the second graders were directed to read books, sitting on the carpeted floor in the back of the room. The children have plenty of books to choose from and the area is spacious and quiet – perfect for relaxing with a book. At some point, I noticed three children sitting back in the reading area with their books. I wasn’t sure if they were really reading or just talking with each other, so I went over to check.
In an attempt to direct them back to reading, I asked, “Who would like to read to me?” One boy, a child who is frequently oppositional, jumped at the chance and began to read aloud and show me the illustrations in his book. He knew that he had my full attention and was taking his reading very seriously. It made him feel good to read to a teacher. As I continued to give him my attention, I began to notice that the other two were listening attentively too, waiting for when he would pause to show us the illustrations. Our Reader was gaining an audience, and that made him feel important.
Before long, a few more students came over, having completed their writing assignment. One by one, they sat down, listening to and looking at the Reader. One boy said, “It’s a reading circle!” Then a girl asked, “Can we join?” Others interjected, “I want to read next!” and figured out a solution for taking turns. Our circle was growing and interest was building. Yet, while each one wanted to read to the group, all the children respected the boy who was reading to us by giving him their undivided attention.
I looked around me. I became aware of this spontaneously pleasant moment that was unfolding. I hadn’t set out to create this situation; I had asked if someone wanted to read to me because I had wanted to engage the three students, to keep them focused and on task. What resulted was a meaningful reading experience that boosted the confidence of the boy who was reading, and an opportunity for other students to appreciate him by being a respectful audience. What I think is really amazing is that I didn’t need to direct this event; I simply set an example and allowed the students to play their part. While it was a small moment in my day, the spontaneous “reading circle” brought me a wonderful sense of satisfaction, knowing that I could set something positive into motion and enjoy being a part of it at the same time. Very sweet!