A True Community

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 14, 2016  in: #tlap, community, reading

Some classes have the “IT” factor.  That’s the class where the kids all care.  Not about just the content.  They care for each other too. They are a true community.  They work together well and all seem to be pulling in the same direction.  I look at this year’s class and wonder what we did to make it work.  Is it the kids?  Is it something I taught them or the way I taught?  Or is it just the combination of all of it?

Last year we were lucky enough to have a volunteer who came to join our classroom community.  Mrs. M is a retired police officer who enjoys being around kids.  She lives nearby and has been volunteering at our school for years. Since I typically loop with my students from 4th to 5th grade, she has known these same kids for 2 school years.

Today was our wonderful volunteer’s last day.  For the last two years, Mrs. M has visited every Wednesday afternoon to talk to my students about books.  These kids don’t need extra help with reading.  What they do need, and what they enjoy, is another adult at school who can listen to their ideas about their reading.

When I announced that today would be her last day with us, the kids all wanted to know what we could do for Mrs. M.  A group formed immediately and asked if they could plan the party.  They created a giant banner and organized everyone to sign it.  That beautiful banner is hanging on the wall now.  Next. everyone wrote Mrs. M a thank you note on real stationery. (Lined white paper was not good enough for her!)

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The party committee created a banner for everyone to sign.

So today was the party.  One student brought in a Starbucks gift bag full of goodies for Mrs. M.  I brought flowers and the kids presented her with these gifts as well as all the notes they had written.  She was so surprised and enjoyed the attention from her adoring fans.  Of course, Mrs. M brought scented erasers and pencils for the kids!

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Mrs. M enjoyed the gifts and notes from the kids

During reading class today the kids entertained Mrs. M with board games.  Two girls taught her to play “BananaGrams” and then another group shared “BuzzWord”.

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Mrs. M learned to play Banana Grams today.

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This group taught the class to play Buzz Word

 

Mrs. M has become a very important part of this true community.  She provided a vital connection for my students as she shared stories from her own experiences with them.  Their discussions about what they were reading provided another way for them to express their ideas through mini reading conferences.

These kids have learned that all members of our community are important and that a special bond can be formed by talking about books.  I’m so grateful for the dedication of our school volunteers, especially Mrs. M, who has given these kids the most important gift – her time.

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