The kids applaud and jump up and down when they see Mrs. Jackson enter the room. While she would be fine if I took a break while she did her lesson, I always find a reason to hang around just because I so enjoy listening to her stories. Today she told a story about Princess Phillips who lives in the castle called Chet's Creek! I was hanging onto her every word!
But it's what she did with a little munchkin that sits right at my feet that helped me know I was watching a master at work. This child normally sits at the foot of my rocking chair (absent from the picture below). She raises her hand to answer every single question and then at least another dozen times when I'm not asking a question! Have you ever had that child? When you do call on her, at least 90% of the time her comment is nothing close to an answer to the question or even on topic to the conversation. I usually just ignore her hand at inappropriate times and try to always call on her when I think she might really know the answer, but the hand keeps going up - ALL of the time! Obviously what I am doing is not working. As I watched Mrs. Jackson, I notice the hand go straight up as soon as Mrs. Jackson started the first story and without missing a beat, Mrs. Jackson very gently took the child's hand and placed it down by the child's side. She never even looked at the child or lost a moment's focus with the rest of the class - just gently put the child's hand down. For the rest of the story, to my amazement, the child sat intently listening to the story without raising her hand a single time. One time, I noticed she started to raise her hand and then just put it right back down. Now that's a master teacher - one who just knows what to do from experience or just innate instinct - so simply, so easily, so effortlessly. She didn't think about a strategy to keep the child on her bottom with her hand down. She just knew what to do.
Some people have referred to working at Chets Creek as being in Camelot and I think they are right. It is all about Princess Phillips in a castle named Chets Creek where they care so much about a little girl named Kate that they tried to raise money to find a cure and where they plant a garden to feed children that are hungry... and where we have volunteers like Mrs. Jackson who amaze us every day!