Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Jump Back June — Looking Back at Lessons Learned
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Slice of Life: Jump Back June — Looking Back at Lessons Learned


I noticed her pushing a box under the table with her foot and then fixing the tablecloth to assure the box was hidden.

“How’s it going?” I ask.

“Good, good,” she quickly replies.


Too quickly, I think to myself.


“So, how can I be helpful today?”

“I would love to think about helping my readers with identifying the problem in a story. They had difficulty doing that on their assessments.”

“Great. What texts would you like to use?”

“I don’t have the books you used in our session. Do you have them with you? I would like to use those.”

“I do, but I am wondering if we could use some books you typically use. Books you love to teach with.”




“Are there books or authors you typically read at this time of year?”




“What was that box you were putting under the table?”

She walks over to the table and pulls out the box. It is filled with books.

“I usually study James Marshall at this time of year. The kids love his humor and he has a great range of texts. I really like him, but I know he won’t work for this. I will just use the books you showed.” 


This slice of life happened about ten years ago and has stayed with me ever since. I learned some important lessons as a coach that day.

  • First, always take a minute or two to just notice what is happening in a classroom before beginning a session. As coaches, we are joining a community of learners and it is critical that we take the time to understand what is happening in the moment.
  • Second, always wait out the silence. Sometimes when the tension of silence builds we fill it with our words when we need to wait and listen.
  • Third, always take the time to ask about the books, studies, charts, authors and lessons the teacher loves. Once we understand how a person teaches it is easier to scaffold next steps.
  • Fourth, always begin with open-ended questions and leave space for the teacher to answer it. If we rush into our agenda too quickly we may miss the opportunity to collaborate and make connections.
  • Fifth, always ask teachers to bring a few books they LOVE to professional development sessions. Once we see the books they bring we can connect the work we are doing together with the work they have been doing.

The author this teacher loved was James Marshall and he is perfect for exploring problems in fictional texts. Ten years later, we still use his books to model how readers think about problems in a story to help them predict and understand the elements of fiction

Here are a few of his titles that we love:

George and Martha

George and Martha

This series of books have the same characters so students can get to know them and predict how they will act based on what they know about them. Students can also think about point of view and how these characters respond to each other. Young readers love the humor and the short stories in these books.

Fox and His Friends


This is another series of books that have the same characters. Students will need to think about multiple problems and characters across these longer texts. They love the humor and lessons learned in these texts.

Fairy Tales


James Marshall has wonderful versions of the traditional fairy tales. His illustrations add layers of meaning. The predicable structure of these tales support our young learners in understanding the elements of fiction.

Miss Nelson


This is another series that students love. They connect with the characters in this class and love talking about the outrageous things they do.  This book will have your class howling. His illustrations add humor to each hilarious event.


This month we are looking back… Jump Back June! We will be reflecting on slices, lessons, moments, and texts from our past. Taking the time to reflect is helping us grow and make connections. We hope you enjoy some of our “oldies but goodies” and share some of your own with us!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 01:15h, 03 June Reply

    I love James Marshall! Some of my favorite memories are reading his books and giggling with my children. It was so interesting to read the old slice and hear the self doubt the teacher felt. Great lessons for us, too – thanks so much. Wait. Listen. Observe. Learn to LOVE books.

  • Avatar
    Dana Murphy
    Posted at 01:48h, 03 June Reply

    Jump Back June – I love it! I’ve learned many of these same lessons as a coach, and then had to learn them again… and again. It’s hard work, coaching.

    Love this Slice – love the honesty of it and the lessons learned.

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