Learner Tribe

Continuing with my theme from the “Teacher Tribe” post as promised, I’ll introduce you to another favorite “tribe.” Since I highlighted teachers, it only seems fair to follow with learners. I like this tribe from fairly short sizes through senior citizens.

My friend and first grade teacher, Ann Nelson, and her class had been reading Keats books and had become very interested in the author. She emailed me a week or so ago to  see if the Keats exhibit she had read about in Akron, OH was the same one that had been appeared in the New York Jewish Museum on loan from the University of Southern Mississippi’s de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection. I assured her it was and offered to come talk to her class about Keats. Tuesday of this week, twenty-four first graders sat criss-cross applesauce in a circle on the floor awaiting my arrival to share “Katz to Keats: A Winding Pathway.”

My tribe! They continued their in-progress discussion with their teacher while I set up, and then gave me their full attention. I had expected thirty minutes max of listening followed by a few questions at the end, but their teacher had them ready for more.

Should you want to know how to prepare students for school visits, you might want to check with Teacher Extraordinaire Ann Nelson. They’d read Keats books in class, found more in the library, and brought some from home. The information Mrs. Nelson had found about the author only left them eager to know more. She had set high expectations for good behavior with no more than a hand signal needed to make slight adjustments. Then she and her assistant sat with the children modeling interested behavior.

The children listened attentively, asking a few questions as we went along, and then a barrage after I had finished my presentation. Their questions related to what I had told them and other things they had wondered about from their reading. When they began to wind down, I looked at my watch. With hardly a wiggle, they had been sitting there for almost an hour!

They asked one question I couldn’t answer: How do they make the book and put all the words and pictures in there? I did know enough to tell them it is easier these days with digital images than when they had to do one color at a time.

My favorite question – after the teacher had passed around my USM medallion with Ezra Jack Keats on one side and Peter from The Snowy Day on the other: Is that fake or real? [Correct answer: It is real, passed along to me by my friend who was the book festival director when Keats won it.]

They proudly claimed their class title of the Nelson Navigators and seemed to think it was appropriate that my second grade classes had been called The Beautiful Butler Bunch. I did enjoy this tribe, especially since there were no papers to grade and no lesson plans to write documenting coverage of things that would be on the test.