We’ve moved the clocks back and the days are noticeably shorter. The air is crisp and heavier clothes are worn outside (reluctantly, I might add). Loudly honking geese fly over the playground. A new season is making itself known, and the children are quick to pick up on the changes. Inside, our learning shifts too. Now two months into the school year, the children are well acquainted with one another. They swap stories and snacks and are gentle with each other when a classmate gets upset. They’ve learned that our classroom is a safe place to try new things and that mistakes along the way are part of the package. Everyone is five now, and there’s a unity, an ease, that wasn’t there before. Just as the geese know when it’s time to start their journey south, things now happen organically in the classroom, too. At rest time, one student takes a clipboard and pens and writes his own version of a Frog and Toad story. At the end of rest, he asks, “Can I read it to the class, Ms. Patel?” “Of course,” I answer, and as he reads, the children listen, enthralled. The next day at rest, three take clipboards and make up stories. Some do their own writing, while others draw pictures and ask me to put down their words. These, too, are excitedly read to the class. Then on the third day – magic! All seven have chosen clipboards and create stories that demand to be shared right away. I scrap the afternoon activity I had planned and we sit and listen to seven budding authors. Shy compliments abound at the end of each reading: “I liked your story. It was funny!” “I liked the colors you used.” “I liked how you wrote The End at the end.” As the children get more comfortable with the different skills of creating, sharing, asking for feedback, listening, I begin to ask questions of my own: “Do you want to give names to your characters? And what is a character, exactly? What do you think makes a story good? What makes it interesting? Do you have an idea for your next story?” The students’ excitement is contagious and the seeds of ownership of their own literacy are sown. It’s been extraordinary to watch this process, and it’s no lie when I say that never, ever before have I had an entire class writing stories so early in the school year. When learning unfolds like this, each child has the confidence to try out their ideas, knowing their efforts are fully supported. They are willing to be gently encouraged to reach towards the next level. They respond with their characteristic positivity. And so they grow. They are thrilled. So am I.