Sunday, September 12, 2010

Teachers share what they've learned from students

If you want to teach young children to write, you must “cultivate your sense of astonishment.” I heard professor Donald Graves say that many years ago. He explained to us that if a 5-year-old comes bursting in with the news that he saw a firetruck on the way to school, you don't say, “Yeah, there's a station down the road. I saw that truck, too.” What you do say is, “You saw a firetruck! Wow! Did you hear the siren? Was it going really fast?” We need to share in the excitement a child feels about a world in which everything seems new. It's the way we help them learn to love language and to use it well. “Cultivate your sense of astonishment.” So I did. I cheered and exclaimed over the firetrucks, the baby teeth that fall out and the new ones that come in, the tadpoles that become frogs, the dandelions that turn into clouds of tiny parachutes, and learning to tie your own shoes. I said that it was all amazing, wonderful and, yes, astonishing. Then, one day, I realized that all of it is.
— Mary Mello teaches at Union Elementary School in Montpelier.

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