I put "book signing" in quotes (which would be much more effective if you could imagine me doing the air quotes thing with my hands) because we had the party before the actual release of the book.
Luckily, there were a few copies available to pass around and pose with, but mine didn't arrive until Lisa was already back in Australia. But she has promised to inscribe mine as instructed "To Gary, my constant inspiration" (or other such sentiments).
In the book, which I began reading today, Lisa documents the positive effects of engaging children in conversation. She shares that is was her "study tour to Reggio Emilia in northern Italy that transformed my wonderings about children's thinking into a passion".
The book is dedicated "To the staff and students of PS 347, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, where I learned to listen with more than my ears" and then proceeds to highlight many of her experiences and interactions at our school. (How cool is that?)
But even cooler things happen in Chapter 3 - Creating the Right Environments for Conversation. This is where I get my one and only mention. (I am told that the editors cut other mentions - darn it. But since this book is geared more towards the preschool/kindergarten classrooms I can't complain too much.)
Anyway, there I am on page 69 under the header 'Sense of Identity'. Lisa writes:
The first thing I see when I enter Lauren and Gary's first-grade classroom is a small bookcase facing the doorway. Plants on the top shelf bring softness and life into the old school building. On the shelves are simple wooden picture frames, bought at the dollar store across the street, containing delightful photographs of each child. There is no doubt what - or who - is important in this room.As I read this chapter I thought about the commitment that Lauren and I made to have fresh flowers in our class each week. About the cozy spaces for one to one conversations or quite places to read a book. I was reminded that we valued each child by thoughtfully hanging their writing and art work, providing labels to indicate that 'this space belongs to me' and arranging materials in a way that is conducive to learning; free from clutter and disorganization.
I was reminded of the thought that has gone into creating a happy, welcoming environment and am thrilled that Lisa has provided new teachers (or experienced teachers who are looking for a new way to do things) a guide of sorts to achieve a more kid friendly classroom.
And I am also reminded that teaching is a gift. A gift that requires many things including being present, there in the moment.
And to answer your question Lisa, "Yes, I am listening".