In my reading this week from, Already Ready, Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten, by Katie Wood Ray & Matt Glover, I was reminded that there is a lot of teaching that happens in the brief interaction between an adult and a child. They gave an example of a young girl named Tashiana before she even started to write, how that Matt supported her thinking in three important ways. “First, he helped her think about the focus of her writing—“What is this book going to be about?” Then he helped her think about composing her text with intention—“Which one will you draw first.” And by talking to her about what might go on the blank pages of her book about a cat and a pumpkin, Matt supported her in thinking ahead about her writing.” (p.149)
I was reminded that as a Teacher Assistant and Side-by-Side teaching is a lot of what I do. I need to understand with clarity all the different ways a young writer needs to be thinking to grow as a writer, so I can nudge their development along simply by engaging them in a conversation about what they are doing. My classes in this Master’s program, (especially those on writing and teaching young writers) help to give me clarity on how my interaction with them needs to be. Basically, teachers “pose problems, ask questions, and make comments and suggestions that stimulate children’s thinking and extend their learning” (NAEYC 1997, 12).
I am proud to say that we make time for side-by-side teaching in our classroom. I am blessed to work with a teacher who knows the difference between nudging children and pushing them, helping them believe in their abilities as writers, and teaching as a responsive action. I have learned to watch the children and listen to them closely as I search for sensible ways to nudge them as they grow their understandings about texts, process, and what it means to be a writer.
This week I share with you the results of that Side-by-Side Teaching.