Slice of Life Tuesday: A visit with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers

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What could be better than seeing Amy Ludwig VanDerwater in person again? Why, watching Amy teach third and fourth graders, of course!

I felt like such a lucky duck to be able to step out of my middle school during my lunch period and make the short drive over to one of our elementary schools to be able to visit with their visiting teacher: Amy.  Many, many moons ago, I had begun my teaching career in a second grade classroom, and although my teaching heart found its place in middle school, there is something sweet and delightful about elementary school-ness that I will always miss: the sound of little voices, the splash of color every where, and the way elementary schools just seem to reverberate with the irrepressible spirit and energy of the younger student set.

Amy was teaching a group of fourth graders when I tiptoed in.  They were clustered around the rocking chair, writer’s notebooks in their laps, listening intently to her story telling.  Amy’s magical button box sat beside her, and I could see piles of buttons sitting on every desk in the classroom, hinting of stories just waiting to be told.

In the way the children were gathered around, the way they listened, the way they were bursting to share their stories, and (especially) the way they watched Amy, I could tell that Amy had made this writing community hers in a very special way.  After all, it takes a special person to be able to walk into a classroom full of never-met-before children, and connect with them in such a way as to make it their own.

One by one, the children shared their stories, poems, lists of favorite and unusual words. I loved watching Amy lean in to listen, kindly gesture to redirect, and celebrate these eager young writers.

When it was time to move on to a third grade classroom, I noticed the care with which these fourth graders brought back Amy’s buttons, the way they lingered to say goodbye, and the way they tucked away their writer’s notebooks – as though they could hardly wait to get back to Amy-inspired writing when it was workshop time again.

Those third graders remembered Amy from her visit the year before, and they scampered to the rug full of delight.  Balancing a pile of notebooks on her lap, Amy shared some of their contents – entries, sketches, lists, bits of paper.  I loved the way she drew the children into the way writers notice, remember, mull over, and invent.

Soon, it was time for them to write, and for me to make it back to the land of middle school.  When I turned to leave, Amy was on the reading rug and deep in conversation with a young writer whose pony tail was swishing excitedly as she let Amy in on her plans to write.  Some children had begun working, but most were watching this writing conference in action, wanting in on some Amy time.

Lucky kids…and lucky me for having had the chance to watch teaching magic.  Thank you, Amy!



8 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: A visit with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.

  1. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to watch a “pro” in action. There’s so much we can learn from them and from each other. I have never understood why schools don’t encourage more of this cross pollination!

  2. Lucky kids! Thank you for giving us all a little peek into Amy’s visit, Tara. I could feel her positive energy through your words.

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