I've Been Kicked Out!
I've been kicked out.What do you mean?Mrs Baldiga doesn't want me in her group any longer. I've been kicked out of the group. I can't write any more.
This was the conversation between a first grade student and his teacher upon learning he wasn't in my small group for writing one day. I had been meeting with a group of students each Wednesday morning working on writing behavior. I was guiding J. towards idea selection and then a focus on getting his work done. This was hard work for him and he struggled through each week, but we finally had a break through and he was off and writing stories with great humor and ease. That is until this day when J. judged he had been kicked out of the group. His teacher had asked me to work with a few new students that were having trouble with focus so I willingly obliged. What I failed to do was tell this plan to J. He felt dejected and unsupported, causing him to stop writing.
I reflected back to the situation. I realized that I had never explicitly verbalized that he had become a writer with such a wonderful voice. He was coming to my little group each week and getting right to work with a new idea and fuel to complete a story within thirty minutes. It truly was miraculous considering where he began. Unfortunately I just never told him! So when we pulled the plug on this support, he judged that we abandoned him. He was lost and devastated.
If I were to do it over I would have him compare his work from the beginning of our time together until the present. I would ask him how he thinks he feels as an author compared to when we first met. I would want his input into our next steps and create a plan forward.
Here's the big lesson for me: Students need us. They want our help. Ultimately, however, our bigger role is to aim for independence, to work ourselves out of a job. I had hung on too long and now I needed to step back and consider the importance of creating independence in our writers.
I have a plan now and so tomorrow I will take time out of my day and sit down with J., tell him I made a mistake, ask for forgiveness, and come up with a plan to move his work forward. I think he'll be thrilled to know I care and that anytime he wants he can come in to my new small group to say hello. Or maybe he can stop in and teach this new group a trick or two.