Before the closure I was in a classroom during rounds and remembered a conversation I had with my principal (and evaluator) about ten years ago.
It was my first year in that district. It was in the spring and my principal shared with me an experience she had coming into my room back in September. It was Readers Workshop and she was thinking she was going to walk into a silent third grade room. Instead, she found a room of third graders quietly chatting with each other. I was seated at a table with a reading group (facing the room so I could monitor kids) and seemed to have no concern with all the chatting.
She was immediately concerned, but to her credit decided to walk around the room rather than assume there was a classroom management issue. As she walked around she realized that all the chatty students were actually talking about reading. Some were discussing their word study assignments, others were discussing their reading group book, others were talking about the mini-lesson we had earlier that morning. My principal talked about a wave of relief realizing that despite it not being silent, everyone was engaged and on task. She would later learn that’s silent didn’t happen a lot in my room. Engaged, yes – but not often silent.
We want our kids to learn. We want our kids to be engaged. But too often we get stuck in this mindset that these things can only happen during parts of the day (such as a reading block) if it’s totally silent. Kids can talk and learn at the same time, even during readers workshop. We should ask ourselves, when we look for silence at certain times of the day is the silence for the kids or is it for the teacher?