Tuesday, October 27, 2015

1st Time - Personal Narrative

While attending TCRWP's Saturday Reunion, I went to learn about how to have stronger partnerships  in Writing Workshop from Ryan Scala, a staff developer I befriended years ago when he was a 3rd grade teacher in Long Island. My favorite part of Ryan's workshop was that he had me WRITE! Using the Generating Ideas Strategy of "Think of the 1st Time you did something and write about that moment", my partner and I discuss our ideas. She mentioned a time growing up and going to her synagogue. That gave me this idea to write about. Thanks, Ryan! *

As the congregation sat down, it was my cue to stand up and walk to the podium. I heard a loud echo with each step I took as my church shoes touched the marble floor of the St. James Church. Once at the podium, I stepped up on the stool so I could see the large book and so my mouth was close to the microphone. I saw placed on top of the opened book, a xeroxed copy of the reading, a reading I had been practicing for the past two weeks. I saw the many slanted lines my teacher had added to help me chunk the word phrases. I saw the punctuation highlighted at the end of each sentence. I cleared my throat and I began.

Even though I could probably recite the reading now from memory, I kept my eyes glued to the page, not looking up to see the many eyes staring at me as I read. In a loud voice, I said, "A Reading from Genesis". As I continued, I remembered to pause longer at each highlighted periods at the end of sentences. I remembered to also pause at each slash mark made by my teacher - a slash about every 4-6 words. "Scoop up a whole phrase and say it in one breath," she coached me. "It will sound funny to you to go so slow, but it will sound clearer through the microphone."

Then I was at the end. "This is the word of the Lord," I said and the congregation replied, "Thanks be to God." I carefully stepped down from the step stool and slowly walked back to my pew. I stepped mostly on my tippy toes trying not to make my shoes echo so much. Then I saw her - my teacher. She was motioning a thumbs up and had a big smile on her face. I breathed in and out and smiled widely too. I took my seat in my pew relieved that my reading was over and content that all my preparation, with my teacher's help, had paid off.

(* MY NOTES from attending the Saturday Reunion at TCRWP on Oct. 17, 2015)


  1. This is a great small moment. You told it bit by bit, just the way we tell our students to and I could really picture it all. You were a much better reader at church than I was- with much more planning and practicing.

  2. You took me right inside the little girl's experience in the big people's world.

  3. I was there listening to you Sally. I pictured you, earnest face and shiny shoes. Wonderful moment. What great stuff you have stored inside. The power of partner talk and a good teacher!

  4. This is a beautifully written Slice. I was right there with your younger self, peering over the podium. Gorgeous.

  5. What a sweet moment - and perfectly described. Lucky you that you got to be in Ryan's session!

  6. What a sweet moment - and perfectly described. Lucky you that you got to be in Ryan's session!