We made the mistake of letting her open up one particular gift before some of the others. She has a favorite series (in Hungarian of course) called Anna, Peti, Gergo (Anna, Peter, and Greg), a very cute bunch of books about a sister and two brothers, written by their mom about things that happen to them.
Each volume is about 200 pages long, with lots of pictures, so Timi opened up the front cover and began reading it, flipping the pages quickly, and there was no stopping her until she reached the end.
When you listen closely to her read, she's using lots of story language...words that (when translated, say) "Once upon a time," "all of a sudden," "and then," and the like. She reads with lots of emotion, changing the pitch of her voice to show excitement, anger, fear, sadness, in the little story she makes up just looking at the picture (remember, she's three!)
We inherit other people's children when they come to school. It's really important that we ride the wave of that momentum and develop them into even more excited storytellers, curious about what's going to happen, feeling things about their characters, finding the story in everything they experience!
The rhythm of their own wondering and thinking in stories has to meet the wondering and rhythm of our teaching. There are certain words that become engrained in our teaching. What words have become engrained in your teaching rhythm?
Maybe it's a positive (or negative) discourse about behavior. Someone just shared with me that her kindergartner daughter got a certificate for "less calling out." Isn't it interesting to think of that as a compliment, instead of a something that is more positive? Imagine the power she'd have with that little girl, to build her rhythm of learning by being more positive by saying she "showed respect," or "waited her turn."
Maybe you have a celebratory tone to your teaching by honoring students' best attempts. Maybe you have a truly exploratory tone by never asking kids a question you think you already know the answer to. Maybe you maintain a reflective stance in your classroom by asking kids what they've learned.
Did you ever notice that preschool kids ask thousands of questions a day, but by the time they reach the older elementary grades, the questions often stop? Why is that? What are our schools doing to slow down this important part of innovation? What part of the rhythm of our teaching stops the wondering? Do we too often ask questions to "gotcha" kids? We see it in the rhythm of testing now more than ever! It's for exactly this reason that the classroom has to do the opposite the rest of the time!
Teacher to teacher, I have to say that the rhythm of our language has to be the kind that keeps our own learning and the learning of our kids going. Parent to teacher, I have to say that my greatest hope that whoever ends up teaching my kids will help them maintain their rhythm of the story of their learning happily ever after!