Leslie Blauman has been one of my most influential mentors for many years. She is the first teacher in my district who really nudged me to change my workshop model. Prior to meeting Leslie, I was in that place where I felt I kind of had it down – I “knew” the workshop model, and therefore didn’t need to change it. Thank goodness Leslie came along to remind me that teaching, like learning, is a constantly changing process, and that we are truly never finished.
When I first took a class from Leslie about 10 years ago, I realized what was working and why – but I also radically transformed how I began my workshops in reading and writing because of her ideas about how we can start important literary journeys with students on the first day of school.
Leslie’s new book, The Inside Guide to the Reading-Writing Classroom, is finally here! I read the first half of it in one sitting. Not only is Leslie a gifted teacher, but she is also a gifted writer – you can see and hear the workshop come alive on these pages as she describes her work.
And, her description of the first day of school is all here, easy to read, and easy to adapt to meet your needs. Leslie sends a wonderful letter home to her students each summer before school begins and welcomes them to her class. She writes about how excited she is to meet them in the fall, and she asks them to bring books – favorite books, books in progress, books they want to read… She doesn’t drone on about rules the first day. Instead, she shares her thinking about reading and writing, and in the process invites her students on a year-long, text-filled journey.
Leslie’s passion for learning is infectious – soon, the kids are talking about their own reading and writing lives. She describes these first moments so authentically that she makes me wish tomorrow were the first day of school so that I, too, could help students think of the exciting journeys we will take together as thinkers, readers, and writers…
Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, Leslie! We can’t wait for future books!