Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Tapping Into Teacher Empowerment

by Jenn Hayhurst

Click here to view the Wakelet

How do we tap into teacher empowerment? This is a question that I have thought about for a long time. It has been my experience that empowered teachers draw on knowing the curriculum, having an understanding for child development, and a knack for setting attainable goals with students that help their students recognize their own inner stores of power, but I wondered what other teachers had to say on the matter. On September 16, 2021 #G2Great began a conversation about tapping into teacher empowerment, and after reading through the Wakelet it became clear to me that GROWING A CULTURE around empowerment is really the next frontier. 

What if we actively created a culture that was built around teacher empowerment in school?  I imagine that it might be like this, teachers come to school believing that their thoughts and decisions will make a positive impact on the collective good. Every faculty member would know that their expertise would be held in the highest esteem.  From where I stand, teaching is already the best career there is and if it were possible to work in a culture that tapped into teacher empowerment, it would be life changing for our profession and our students.  That is something worth fighting for, and here are some ways we can begin to make a shift towards tapping into (a culture) of teacher empowerment.

Listen to Teachers

Building a school wide belief system stems from an ongoing conversation about how students learn best. Once we have that vision, we can begin to align our beliefs and we can promote a shared voice in the materials that we put into the classroom. One way to promote ownership is to let teachers decide what kinds of materials reflect the shared vision.  Teacher autonomy would stem from having a voice and choice about classroom libraries, based on the needs of their classrooms.

Promote Intellectual Curiosity

It is a goal of many to take a student centered approach to teaching and learning. It is also important  to extend that same stance for professional learning for teachers. Having choice in the kind of professional learning that is received is very empowering.  We need to follow the teacher lead when it comes to learning because each teacher has a different need. Peer facilitated coaching is another way to promote empowerment because having the freedom to visit a colleague and learn collectively is the kind of on the job training that promotes professional growth while tapping into teacher expertise.

Take Action Through Agency

The culture of school does not always jive with the concept of agency. There are so many tasks teachers are asked to complete at school that suck up time and effort. Our focus becomes a checklist of “have to’s” rather than time spent cultivating the craft of teaching. It is hard to feel inspired to take action when obligatory duties take over.  We can strive to make this better. Everyone has to submit lesson plans, but rather than  submitting lesson plans prior to the lesson, submit them after with teacher reflections written in the margins. This encourages deeper reflection while giving administration a better view of what is happening in the classroom.  What went well? What failed? What did you learn? Innovative solutions are out there, let’s devote time and energy to making it happen.

Begin Good Conversations

One tenant of #G2Great is that we believe we move from “good work” to “great work”  in the classroom  (Howard 2012) when we continue to read and act on professional learning. A school culture that embraces a teacher’s desire to learn and try something new is one that is made to tap into teacher empowerment.  Every week, I learn so much from the teachers I work with and the teachers I know through social media. Risk would be a badge of honor, a marker of courageous learners who are trying to outgrow themselves. This would be a culture that would be worthy of the students we teach everyday. 

Never Lose Sight of What is Possible

The culture we live in school is in some part a reflection of ourselves. What if? Two common words that have an uncommon ability to power real change. If you find yourself wanting more, and dream of tapping into your own sense of empowerment; don’t wait, you can make the difference.

Every Kid A Writer: Strategies That Get Everyone Writing by Kelly Boswell

by Fran McVeigh

The Twitter chat is available in its entirety at this Wakelet link.

On Thursday, June 24th, Kelly Boswell joined the #G2Great chat to discuss her book, Every Kid a Writer: Strategies That Get Everyone Writing. Other books by Kelly include: Crafting Nonfiction Intermediate and Solutions for Reading Comprehension coauthored with Linda Hoyt and these two by herself, Write This Way: How Modeling Transforms the Writing Classroom and Write This Way From the Start.

This is one of those blog posts that I began early in order to process the information and to do justice to the topic amidst a busy summer. I reread Kelly’s book. I listened to her podcasts. I reviewed her quotes and then fresh off four days of writing institute, I wrote three or four possible hooks. As the chat ended, I raced to my draft “possibilities” document full of joy. The chat had been exhilarating. Joyful. Respectful. Packed with ideas. And so student-centered. But I couldn’t find a way to begin this post. Or more accurately, I couldn’t find a way that I liked well enough to begin this post. I chalked it up to being tired and waited to reread the Wakelet Friday morning to save some tweets to use. But I was stuck without an appropriate introduction.

Saturday started out with a fantastic Text, Talk, and Tea Zoom with Clare, Franki, Laura and Lynsey. After they shared their text set, I kept returning to several ideas from Colleen Cruz’s keynote closing for the #TCRWP writing institute. Colleen talked about the trust that students place in their teachers and how we need to celebrate that trust and learning in order to appreciate, amplify and pass the mic. Here’s her slide:

Colleen Cruz #TCRWP Keynote, 06.25.2021

Appreciate. Amplify. Pass the mic.

We can do that because we find JOY and LOVE in students’ writing when we remove barriers and focus on providing the instruction that supports them in writing. This joy and love was what I saw as the vision behind Kelly’s book and the reason that her writing strategies DO get everyone writing. There’s no blaming students. There’s no shaming students. There is an expectation and a vision that everyone can write . . . once the environment and instruction is prepped for them. We can do that because we are ALSO writers and we value both process and product. We value writing… and writing… and writing!

After finding my own connections to Kelly’s book, I wanted to honor her purpose in writing this book because I, too, have heard these questions.

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

This book is a response to the question I hear the most from the teachers with whom I work – “What about those kids who don’t like to write?” 

Many of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves in the company of a few (or perhaps more than a few) students who shrug when asked about their writing. They slump in their chairs instead of jumping into writing with energy and vigor. They sharpen pencils or ask for the bathroom pass or decide it’s a good time to organize and reorganize their desk. They groan when you announce that it’s time or write or they barrage you with questions along the lines of “How long does this have to be?” 

Many teachers mistakenly think that the problem lies with the reluctant student. I had a hunch that, like most things, teachers and classroom environments created either reluctance or engagement. 

In this book, I set out to explore this topic – why do the writers in some classrooms seem so reluctant while students in a different classroom dig into writing with enthusiasm and joy? Could we, as teachers, create classrooms and writing experiences that could increase engagement? As I spoke to students and teachers and taught lessons of my own,  my hunch was confirmed: The environment and community we create in the classroom, along with some specific, yet simple, teaching strategies, have an enormous impact on how students engage with writing. 

And that vision led us to our second question.

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

One of the biggest takeaways that I hope teachers embrace is that the problem of reluctant writers is NOT the kids. As teachers, we have the power to embrace and use some simple, practical strategies that support ALL kids to engage in writing with enthusiasm and joy. These six strategies are outlined in the book: 

We can: 

1. Use mentor texts and teacher modeling to fuel engagement

2. Create a safe and daily space for writing

3. Expose writers to real readers.

4. Offer more choice (choice of paper, seating, topic, etc.)

5. Maintain a healthy perspective on conventions.

6. Shape and create a healthy writing identity through assessment

Let’s pull back the curtain and look a little further at some of the six strategies shared by Kelly during the chat.

1. Use mentor texts and teacher modeling to fuel engagement.

2. Create a safe and daily space for writing.

3. Expose writers to real readers.

4. Offer more choice. (choice of paper, seating, topic, etc.)

5. Maintain a healthy perspective on conventions.

6. Shape and create a healthy writing identity through assessment.

In conclusion, I return to the final question for our author and just a few additional thoughts.

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

As teachers, the goal of all of our planning and teaching and conferring and assessing is, simply this: 

  • We want kids to fall in love with writing. 
  • We want kids to find words that they love and never let them go. 
  • We want kids to see writing as a way to connect with others, share ideas and engage in civil discourse. 
  • We want kids to know that writing is a powerful tool that they can use to think, reflect, remember and influence others.  
  • We want kids to discover that the act of writing is its own reward. 
  • We want them to know, deep in their bones, that writing has so much to give and so much to teach. 
  • We want kids to live joyfully literate lives. 

It starts with us.

When we provide time for students to joyfully tell their stories, we must Appreciate. Amplify. And pass the mic! This mutual respect and trust between writers and teachers of writing results in classrooms filled with joy, purpose and energy. To conclude, a repeat of the closing quote from the chat, in Kelly’s own words:

Let’s get started!

Additional Links:

Blog Posts (Heinemann):  https://blog.heinemann.com/conferring-with-kids-remotely-tips-for-remote-writing-conferences-from-kelly-boswell

https://blog.heinemann.com/positive-practices-for-you-and-your-students

Podcasts: https://blog.heinemann.com/podcast-demystifying-the-writing-process-with-kelly-boswell?hsCtaTracking=ee7df32b-f50a-49f2-adf8-67e9076b7157%7Cdc1d2e0c-2715-48ff-ab7f-4b640204da9e

Books: https://www.amazon.com/Kelly-Boswell/e/B00E59W45Q?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3&qid=1620140304&sr=8-3

Article: https://www.languagemagazine.com/2020/02/19/harnessing-the-power-of-a-teachers-pen-2/

Is Learning “Lost” When Kids Are Out of School? (Alfie Kohn)

by Fran McVeigh

Wow! The Twittersphere was on fire on 10/22/2020 when the #G2Great chat discussed Alfie Kohn’s article from the Boston Globe, “Is Learning ‘Lost’ When Kids Are Out of School?” You can check out the article here and the Wakelet for the chat here.

I trust that you will want to check out the article as Alfie Kohn succinctly answers his own question. But that also causes a few more questions for readers which is why the discussion was scheduled with the #G2Great audience. What’s important? What matters?

Here are a few tweets illustrating that point.

Where do we begin? Many government officials and capitalists would have us begin with assessments but if you espouse “student-centered” education then you already know that we must begin at the very beginning. Are there really gaps? How would those be assessed? And how would we really assess learning? And that circles back to student-centered learning. We begin with student assets as identified in the tweets below.

In the Boston Globe article, Alfie Kohn pulls no punches with his beliefs about standardized tests. Do they REALLY measure learning? Well, that then requires us to think about learning. Is learning merely the regurgitation of factoids, examples, and curriculum that could be answered by a Google search? Or is “learning” something else? What do educators believe? How would students respond?

Here are some thoughts on “What is learning?” from the #G2Great community.

So if we are not going to use standardized assessments to measure “Learning”, what can the education community STOP doing now? How can we help “Learning” be the sustained focus and not just the “flavor” for a chat response or a newsletter? How can we make LEARNING the focus of all our future conversations?

In order for instruction to provide opportunities for learning as well as choice, and adding in “student-centered”, what will educators need to be working on expanding? What about: Student agency? Empowerment? Choice?

These four tweets will jump start your thinking about additional actions for your school community.

Is learning lost? There may be some summer slide, but as previously mentioned, students have shared powerful learning from their at-home work that has longer lasting life-time implications for their communities. Where will change come from? What will it look like? It will begin with a belief in the need for change. We can no longer afford to prepare our children for the 20th century. Change has been needed for decades and is evident that we are now in the THIRD decade of the 21st century. The pandemic just made the need for change more visible when schools were shuttered across the U.S. (and Canada) last March.

Where will YOU begin? Who else needs to read and discuss this article with you? When? The time for action is NOW! The students are depending on YOU!

Additional resources:

Alfie Kohn (Books, Blogs, Resources) Link

Alfie Kohn – Standards and Testing – Link

Alfie Kohn – How to Create Nonreaders (Yes, 2010, but read all 7) Link

#G2Great: Preparing for the Unexpected

By Fran McVeigh

Wakelet Link

Thursday, April 2, 2020 #G2Great focused on lessons learned on the journey from typical March classroom experiences to environments ranging from “shelter in place” to the distribution of online learning sessions. Each chat participant had their own stories to share. Their own successes. Their own fears. And even their own JOY.

Words matter. Words matter most in times of uncertainty. This is my new favorite word: Ultracrepidarian. An eight syllable word that packs a lot of meaning. According to dictionary.com, it means:

“noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise: The play provides a classic, simplistic portrayal of an ultracrepidarian mother-in-law.” (dictionary.com link)

Recently education has been under attack from many groups. Many of them seem to be ultracrepidarians. We won’t know the full extent or REAL impact of Covid-19 school closures for generations because there are just too many “unknowns” at this time. We can speculate that some immediate changes will occur. But will they be lasting changes? Will it depend on the REASONS for the changes? We need to be aware of the voices and words from ultracrepidarians.

Three key ideas that surfaced in our chat were: a focus on students, daily choice reading and writing, and teachers as a collaborative community of problem solvers and leaders.

Focus on Students

In Kylene Beers’s “Office Hours” session earlier in the day, Kelly Gallagher shared with all the attendees that one true abiding belief that sustains him is that students are at the center circle of all we do. That seems fairly common. But let’s follow his thinking as Kelly explained that the second concentric circle is for teachers and then out beyond that is the curriculum, the standards, and the course content. Inherent within that first circle is all the joy, creativity, curiosity, and independence that radiates from students and requires careful nurturing to flourish and grow in times of trouble. When we begin with a focus on students at the center of learning, it seems easier to ensure that instruction is responsive, matches students needs, and continually challenges students to stretch and grow. Marisa Thompson’s tweet matches those beliefs.

Daily Choice REAL Reading and Writing

Stories sustain us in times of trouble. Stories provide an escape from reality and allow us to dig into deeper meaning in our lives. Writing stories also allow us to reveal our thinking, explore ideas, and process the events occurring in our lives. Using “stories” literally does not mean short stories only. It also doesn’t mean books only. Reading and writing need to include short and long term projects and sources to keep volume, interest and engagement high as communication needs shift. Time for REAL choice reading and writing may also mean “going slow to go fast” and/or reducing the number of teacher-directed units. As teachers plan to “finish out the year,” those plans will require flexibility so students have equitable access, opportunities to learn, and the needed structures to ensure motivation and engagement remain high as Julie Wright describes below in her tweet.

Teachers as a Collaborative Community of Problem Solvers and Leaders

Teachers are being challenged to move from 0 to 60 miles per hour immediately to find ways to provide supportive, safe environments for students to flourish. Some had the benefit of time to organize and study together before plans were finalized. Some had the benefit of opportunities to gain input from parents and caregivers before brick and mortar schools closed their doors. Some pressure is self-induced as teachers have high expectations for student learning. But not all expectations are the same and local, state and federal administrators will be wise to ascertain local needs and expectations before mandates become edicts.

Why does it matter? Teachers as the leaders and the decision-makers are entrusted with the care of students’ emotional, social, physical and intellectual growth. That is why teachers begin with students and their needs as the focus. Technology-based learning may be a concern, but it is only ONE way of approaching student learning. If students have no devices, technology is not the answer. If students have no bandwidth, technology is not the answer. If parents/caregivers, and multiple students need to be online learners within the same environment, flexible schedules will be necessary with fewer synchronous learning requirements. All of those components will require teachers to generate thoughtful plans and choices. Similarly a “packet” of papers is not the answer either. Learning expectations need to be purposeful and clearly designed to meet student needs. This is not the time to revert to practices that are not in the best interests of students. A community of teachers collaborating together can problem solve and generate learning ideas to maximize time and space to lead to a higher degree of success. This is after all why so many people are teachers as Kitty Donohoe shares in her tweet and also framed in Justin Reich’s quote shared prior to our chat.

So why does it matter? Everyone is scrambling. Everyone has ideas. Everyone has personal preference. But everyone also has to remember the WHY of instruction that matches their community values. Basic needs have had to be prioritized as folks have lost jobs and endured weeks of lockdown in close proximity of family members who are struggling with the loss of food and fiscal resources, fear of the unknown and the stress of rapid changes. During times of trouble, time becomes an even more precious commodity.

What do you value? How do we know?

The final question, question 8 from our chat, is one you all need to discuss and come to consensus on in your buildings and districts so that your actions will be based on your beliefs.

Link

And here is a quick summary of the eleven items that #G2Great chat members listed more than once when responding to Q8 according to the Wakelet.

  • 2 mentions: See learning differently, Joy, Laugh, Love, Rest, Go Outside
  • 3 mentions: Create, Listen, Talk
  • 4 mentions: Play
  • 6 mentions: Write
  • 8 mentions: Read

In conclusion, there are no WRONG answers in the current uncharted Covid-19 Survival World. There are “better” answers. Slow down and be thoughtful in your responses. Commit to strengthening relationships. Commit to doing the best you can. Commit to being the best you can. Commit to being the kind of person that you will be proud of. Commit to finding a group of folks to bounce ideas off of and to share the load of the work ahead.

And above all, give yourself grace to make mistakes, to make missteps, to ask for help, to grieve, and to take care of yourself, your family AND your school communities! Be safe! Be careful! Use soap and water!

This is Day One #G2Great with Drew Dudley

By, Jenn Hayhurst

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post about one of our #G2Great chats, I spend a good deal of time in the archive. I read over the Wakelet, and reflect on the thinking each tweet reveals. I return again and again because they understand the challenges that teaching brings with it and they are so generous as they share their ideas and thinking freely. With each chat, I find that they have such smart things to say full of insight and wisdom. For these, and so many other reasons, I see my teacher colleagues as leaders, each and every one of them.

What values define leadership for you? If you had that power, which value would you choose? When it comes to leadership, these are the words our #G2Great PLN valued most.

I think of them all as leaders, yet if I were to ask if they regarded themselves as leaders, I bet many of them would say, “I’m just a teacher.” On February 7, 2019, #G2Great welcomed leadership guru, Drew Dudley. Drew, is the author of This is Day One A Practical Guide to Leadership That Matters. We asked Drew, what his motivation was to write this book:

The book emerged from frustration to be honest. I was frustrated being surrounded by young, dynamic, compassionate and brilliant young people who weren’t comfortable calling themselves leaders. They were raising money to eradicate any number of diseases, dedicating hours upon hours fighting for social justice, sleeping outdoors in sub-zero temperatures to raise awareness of homelessness—yet they didn’t see themselves as leaders because the examples they had been given were all giants. They saw what they were doing as preparation for leadership It came to a head when I asked one of my most remarkable students “why do you matter?” His response? “I don’t yet…that’s why I’m working so hard.” That’s an unacceptable answer from anyone that you care about. However, it was the type of answer echoed by other student, professionals, even CEOs. I was shocked by how many people were living their lives driven by the idea that “I don’t matter yet…that’s why I’m working so hard.” People matter when they engage in acts of leadership, so I wrote the book to highlight a form of leadership to which everyone can and should aspire – one unrelated to money, power and influence. One that urges people to evaluate their leadership not over blocks of time, but on a daily basis. A form of leadership that can give people evidence that they matter every day. Recognizing that in the professional world most people don’t hold executive positions or positions that have traditionally been associated with leadership, I wanted to help people recognize that their leadership wasn’t tied to their salary or title, but to their daily behaviours. A fundamental premise of Day One leadership is that you, your principal, the superintendent, and the CEOs of the world’s biggest companies all woke up this morning having engaged in the exact same number of behaviours that deserve the title of “leadership”: none. That means we all have an opportunity and an obligation to live our own form of leadership every day.

Drew Dudley February 2019

As much as this is a book about leadership, it is a book about self-empowerment. Knowing that leadership is defined more by our actions and values than by our titles and salary. What we do matters, it matters maybe even more than we realize. This was a question that resonated with me, “Why do you matter” is the most difficult self-reflective question for people to answer. Why do you matter? Why should we ask students that question? This is what we said,

Every day is a fresh start. Every day can be “Day One” Day one begins with knowing why we matter. Knowing why we matter gives our lives a sense of meaning and purpose so we may live an authentic meaningful life. Isn’t that what schooling ought to prepare students to do? To live one’s life as their most powerfully authentic self. As I pause and ponder, I begin to wonder, What kind of experience am I creating for students? Am I teaching them to see themselves in this light? There are three important takeaways, Drew wants every teacher to consider:

There are three key things I’ll highlight that I feel are particularly relevant to teachers:

1. The people we choose to use as examples of leaders matter. If we keep our focus on “famous”, we cause our students to devalue the leadership they do demonstrate every day. As much as possible, focus on examples of leadership that aren’t famous, don’t hold positional titles, and. Ask students to identify the most impactful people in their lives, and keep the discussion around examples of leadership behaviours, rather than titles. Students see themselves capable of emulating behaviours, but many don’t see themselves as being able to acquire the positions and titles traditionally associated with leadership.

2. There are a lot of things that are “learned but never taught” in our classrooms that stand in the way of young people embracing their leadership. One of the big ones is that academic achievement is rewarded at a higher level than personal awareness and impact. Whenever possible, reinforce the idea that “I want you to make your grades extraordinary…I want you to work twice as hard to make sure they are the least impressive thing about you.” You can’t just say it though, you have to make sure that the reward structures in your schools actually reinforce that idea.   

3. Ask your students, “why do you matter?” Don’t let them wiggle out of answering, and don’t let them claim that they don’t.

Drew Dudley February 2019

Sometimes in life, you get excellent timing. Publishing this post the day before Valentine’s Day gives me an opportunity to send out this message of adoration for every teacher. You matter. You matter because you are shaping a child’s life every day you step into the classroom. You matter. You matter because all of our work and dedication is an investment in the future. You just have to do one important thing: believe it. Only you can make that choice to lean into leadership and get in touch with how powerful you really are. We asked Drew, to share a message about this book that comes from from the heart. A message for every teacher to keep in mind:

I want them all to remember that they drop depth charges.
One of the most exciting things about releasing a book is delivering a copy to every single English teacher you’ve ever had. The final one I delivered was to the most influential teacher in my life – a bittersweet meeting as he had been recently diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. During our visit I told him that many of the ideas in the book can be traced back to lessons and insights he had first planted.
“Ah yes, the depth charges” he responded.
He went on to explain that one of the most rewarding and frustrating things as a teacher was the fact that the most significant impact of his work was often deferred. It was often many years before students truly recognized the value of some of the lessons he tried to impart.
“You have to accept that what you’re doing is planting depth-charges in students’ minds,” he explained. “You can’t expect to see the results of your work right away – it could be years before something you said goes off in a student’s mind and helps them in some way. When I was first starting out as a teacher I would get so frustrated that students ‘just weren’t getting it’. I now realize they just weren’t getting it ‘yet’. Their life hadn’t needed that insight yet.”
There are very few professions that play a bigger role in how the next generation will understand and engage their leadership. However, the day-to-day reality of the job can often make you feel you’re having little impact. Remember you’re dropping depth-charges – you may never see the way your lessons change the worlds of your students, but they do.

Drew Dudley

These conversations about leadership, authenticity, and empowerment are the kinds of conversations educators need to have and need to have often. Thank you, Drew. Thank you for saying “Yes” and for joining us. You made an impact!

Teach Like Yourself: How Authentic Teaching Transforms Our Students and Ourselves

By Fran McVeigh

On November 29, 2018, Dr. Gravity Goldberg returned to the #G2Great chat table for the third time to discuss her fifth book. Previously Gravity joined the #G2Great community with her collaborative partner Renee Houser, What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? (link) and for Mindset and Moves (link).

All of her books have added to our literacy knowledge but this is the book that will be perfect for new teachers, for mentor teachers, for lead teachers, and even experienced teachers who are experiencing some doubt about their current role and purpose in education or even a “personal crisis” in the form of confidence about their teaching life. This book will lift you up and encourage you to build on your inner strengths as well as seek out a community where you will thrive. The three quotes below were pre-tweeted out to the Twitterverse and the #G2Great community as “Words of Wisdom” in the hour before chat and opened up the topic of #TeachLikeYourself as both a singular and collaborative effort.  

And that focus remained for the entire chat. Sometimes we discussed individual teacher roles and sometimes we discussed the collaborative product of the efforts put forth by a group of teachers determined to provide quality learning experiences for all students.

And we were off with this opening quote from Gravity’s new book that listed three key ingredients that teachers need:  a deep sense of self, confidence and freedom.What does a deep sense of authenticity or self entail?

A deep sense of authenticity or self means that you, the teacher, know yourself. Your real self shows up to teach. The self that interacts with students, parents, community and staff day after day. The teaching self that is “you”. The you that is focused on the students in front of you who are learning every day just as you are also learning side by side with them. Responsibility for learning rests with the individual teacher and the daily work in the classroom.  

As a group, we can be genuinely curious about our students.  We can also build on students’ strengths and share our successes.  And we can also share what has been successful for our teaching challenges in order to “share the love” for what works when we have high expectations. We will remind each other that FAIL means “First Attempt in Learning” and we will get up and try again when our work misses the mark.  Having a thought partner will make this journey toward authenticity easier!

What is “confidence” in our practice?

You have “confidence” in your practice when you use something that has had proven success before. It doesn’t mean that you become a “robot” or immediately “adopt” someone else’s work/beliefs, but it does mean that you will seek out additional ideas if something is not working.  You will exhaust all avenues in order to go “the extra mile” for your students.

When we have confidence in our practice, we can face the barriers and stand strong. The barriers are many so we appreciate having a community to stand with, beside, and around us! Internal barriers include self-doubt, comparisons to others, worry, stress and pressure when students don’t make the progress expected. External barriers include: common pacing guides, common assessments, lack of time, limited classroom libraries, mandates that are contrary to beliefs and values, and many more listed in the wakelet. Teachers who have confidence in their practice rise above those barriers and retain their authenticity as well as flourish in the knowledge that students are successful learners!

When do we have the freedom to show up fully as ourselves?

When we feel supported or work in a supportive environment – team, grade level, building or district that is supportive – we have the freedom to show up fully as ourselves. That does mean that we need to take the initiative and be clear about our needs as well as then name when those needs are met in order to enable others to show up fully as themselves. We intentionally and purposefully manage our own self-care daily as well as make sure that we are not impeding others’ path to their own self-care.  

Sometimes it means that we have to step out of our comfort zone to help others. The professional relationships that we build and nurture may be in our building or they may be in a different part of our state or even in a distant state. Valuing other ways to connect with individuals is a skill that we can nurture for ourselves as well as help students see the value in connecting with individuals in other locations. Professional learning then becomes about sharing what we have learned as well as what we need to learn and then growing collectively to share ways to continue to grow our knowledge and skills.

The solutions lie within the teachers in every classroom in every building in every district in every state/country. Driven to continue learning, to be the best teacher, to be authentic, and to grow every day  – those are characteristics of teachers who are being their “best” teacher every day. If you are having a challenging day, stop and think . . . are you out of balance?  RE-center your deep sense of self, your confidence in your teaching, and your freedom to show up freely as yourself. Can you do this by yourself?  Who will you ask to help?

The section that I return to often with teachers is:

“Start with Why

Know your why.

Get clear on your what.

Decide on how.”  Goldberg, G. (2018). Teach Like Yourself. p.25

When are you authentic? 

How do you know? 

When do you have the freedom to show up freely as yourself?


Are the ideas in the sketchnote some that you heard in the chat?




Check out these resources for more ideas about being your true authentic teacher self!

Wakelet

Corwin – book link (includes preview of Chapter 1)

Facebook Group – Teach Like Yourself

Webinar  Corwin – Link 

Gravity Goldberg and Renee Houser What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow?

Gravity Goldberg Mindsets and Moves

A Novel Approach: Whole-Class Novels, Student-Centered Teaching, and Choice

by Jenn Hayhurst

On February 22, 2018, Kate Roberts joined #G2Great to have a conversation about taking a fresh look at the whole-class novel. There is something deeply reassuring about her book, because she asks us to lift our presuppositions, regardless of what stance you take, and find some common ground. What is good about this practice? What’s a potential drawback? How can we elevate this practice so it can evolve based on what we now know about strong instructional practice?

We are all teachers who want to get to the heart of the matter…  how do we help usher in the next generation of readers? As with any complex endeavor, there is so much to consider. Kate’s book inspired all of us to think past our preconceptions because the more we share the more we could learn from and support each other through professional sharing.

Sharing Experiences

Experiences shape us. They fill us up and give us the ink so we may write our stories. If I understand your experience with this instructional move, I can broaden my own understanding. During the chat, I broadened my understanding and I saw the Whole-Class Novel (WCN) as something that is not a yes/ no proposition I re-envisioned it as an opportunity that may be full of potential.

Sharing Expertise

We are smarter together! Yes, the Whole-Class Novel can be an object of inquiry. When teachers think about their end goals for using this instructional practice it can grant permission for critical thinking. We can take this one book, and open it up to all our students and see where they take it. That can be an exciting proposition.

Sharing the Journey

When teachers and students share the journey to make meaning it is magical. It is also powerful that Kate’s book inspired this revelation for the #G2Great community. This is not an easy proposition but it is a worthwhile one. Students will have vastly different interpretations of a book and that’s ok. The classroom is the perfect place to learn how to have those conversations that may not have been possible without this instructional move.

Thank you, Kate for helping us to re-envision the potential for the Whole-Class Novel. Together we continue to shape and grow our practice, because none of us are as brilliant as all of us…

  

Purposeful Planning: Relinquishing Instructional Control

by Jenn Hayhurst

Purpose is the spark that moves us to action. Purpose ignites a flame that lights the way for deeper learning. Purpose burns deep within each teacher so we can be leaders who advocate for keeping instruction student-centered, always. This was the conversation that inspired the #G2Great chat, Purposeful Planning: Relinquishing Instructional Control, on February 1, 2018.  

How does working with a sense of purpose change us? Expectations. When we have sense of purpose in our work we also have higher expectations for the outcome of our work. This is true for any learner whether they are a teacher or a student.

Purpose Initiates Freedom & Leadership:

Teachers are the most influential leaders in the world, because we are leading students on a journey of self-discovery. We are teaching students to rely on themselves, and when students learn they can rely on themselves they become leaders too.

Every time teachers model how to take risks we set students free. When we are unafraid to try something, wrestle with a problem, or create complex learning experiences we create an expectation for learning. We are teaching them that the productive struggle is to be expected along the way. Each time teachers come to the classroom with a flexible purposeful plan we welcome student thinking into the mix. When we do that, we create stakeholders for learning!

Purpose Honors Identity & Choice:

Every child offers something totally unique. When teachers look at students’ differences as strengths to be  integrated into a purposeful plan, we create something magical.  We create learning opportunities that emphasize their individual talents.

Student voice and choice is not an extra nicety, it’s a necessity!  Surely, these learning opportunities would not be possible without them. Every time students see their interests, their culture, their preferences represented in their classroom they become vested in purpose. Purpose is entirely the point.

Purpose Grows Learning & Success:

In the end, we have to get real about purposeful planning. It’s purposeful planning, not perfect planning. There is no neat and easy road to growth and success. Every time we plan for new experiences, complex thinking, and something a little unexpected we are helping our students to grow beyond what our curriculums asks us to teach.

Resilience is not always innate it can be learned over time. When we see our struggles as a gift, they become badges of honor that every learner can be proud to wear. This is what purposeful planning anticipates and celebrates for students and for teachers alike.

Purpose is defined as, the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. We believe that teacher’s purpose is inextricably linked to student growth. Growth in all its beauty and complexity and for something so big, we have to come at it with a plan. So, plan wisely, plan with great intention and compassion. Plan with optimism and expectations. As Dr. Mary Howard would advise you, plan with heart

On a personal note, I’d like to wish my friend and mentor, Mary Howard, a very Happy Birthday. You are a gift to me and to so many others. You are the ultimate advocate for students and I thank you for pushing me to live up to your high expectations to be a better teacher than I was the day before. Truly, you inspire me in every way every day. xo

 

Passionate Readers Guest Host Pernille Ripp

by Jenn Hayhurst

On August 24, 2017, our #G2Great community welcomed back Pernille Ripp with open arms. We celebrated her book, Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child with a thoughtful and heartfelt conversation about what it takes to be a teacher of reading. Pernille is a teacher, she is one of us. She is open and honest about her own personal struggles and shares her celebrations and successes. She lets us into her classroom, and in doing so, we see our own teaching lives revealed.

As I read through my Twitter feed, I imagined that I was part of an extended faculty. A member of a dynamic group of educators who cares deeply about our profession. Teachers who understand that together we are changing lives. We are united by a shared purpose and our conversations with Pernille are a prelude to all the good work that lies ahead of a new school year.

As you read this post, imagine we are in the faculty room, and we are having a good conversation, thinking about the complexities of the work that goes into helping students discover their passion for reading. What is the most important thing to focus on? What should I do to set up a successful year? What do I do if students don’t even like to read?  

Establish Reading Rituals…

Nurture Reading Identities…

Create a Reading Culture… 

Set Attainable Goals…

Design Learning Environments…

Prioritize Time to Read… 

Honor Authentic Choices… 

Share Your Hopes & Dreams…

Thank you Pernille, you inspired so many of us to dig deep and share what we know. This chat was a glimpse into your marvelous book, which is a beautiful read that is both poignant and practical. Together we can wrestle with the big important questions, and find solutions through our collective wisdom. Fortunately, there are so many talented teachers to learn with as we begin this exciting new year of learning for students as well as ourselves.

Links to Connect with Pernille

Pernille’s website: https://pernillesripp.com

Pernille Ripp on passion-based learning and empowering students (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKCYj9KQS0o

The Students’ Voice: Empowering Transformation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Un8fFciqmo

Global Read Aloud: One Book to Connect the World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoJo5wbK54I

The Educator Collaborative Gathering Global Read Alouds, K-12 Pernille Ripp, Amira Abdel-Aal, & Alumni from New Horizon Irvine https://gathering.theeducatorcollaborative.com/session-three/workshop-11/

Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp (Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_6_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=passionate+learners&sprefix=passionate%2Caps%2C143&crid=2QPU63E5QHA0G

Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp (Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/Passionate-Readers-Reaching-Engaging-Every/dp/1138958646/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1496069596&sr=8-2&keywords=pernille+ripp

Empowered Schools Empowered Students by Pernille Ripp (Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/Empowered-Schools-Students-Connected-Educators/dp/1483371832/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1478029745&sr=8-2&keywords=passionate+learners

My ITEC Ignite – The Least We Can Do http://ytcropper.com/embed/7R581a9b2a0bd7d/loop/noautoplay/

(Pernille’s newest book): Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration https://www.amazon.com/Reimagining-Literacy-Through-Global-Collaboration/dp/1943874166/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478568811&sr=8-1&keywords=literacy+through+global+collaboration

#G2Great From Pencils to Podcasts Digital Tools for Transforming K-6 Literacy Practices

By Jenn Hayhurst

On August 3, 2017, authors Katie Stover-Kelly and Lindsay Yearta joined #G2Great to extend a conversation that began with their book, From Pencils to Podcasts Digital Tools for Transforming K-6 Literacy Practices. Providing an education in the  21st Century means that whatever our role: teachers, administrators, professional developers, or college professors we need to be open to seeking out ways to intentionally integrate technology with learning.

This post is dedicated to the vibrant #G2Great Professional Learning Network, (PLN) because we are a community of educators who are unafraid to try new things, to learn, to mix it up and push ourselves forward in the name of our students. In that spirit, this post is beginning where our chat ended with our future technology goals. To boldly step out of our comfort zones and meet learning at the cutting edge of the 21st Century.  

Our last question initiated BIG GOALS for future learning…

BIG GOAL #1 Try Global Read Aloud:

Global Read Aloud is an opportunity to connect and learn around story with a digital backdrop. According to Katie and Lindsay, “In this age of digital tools and multiliteracies, there are increasing demands of students to collaborate in order to consume and produce multimodal texts in online spaces.

If you are interested in learning more about Global Read Aloud: “The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible. Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be. Some people choose to connect with just one class, while others go for as many as possible. The scope and depth of the project is up to you. While there are official tools you can use such as Skype, Twitter, Write About or Edmodo, you choose the tools that will make the most sense for you. Teachers get a community of other educators to do a global project with, hopefully inspiring them to continue these connections through the year. “ –  Pernille Ripp

BIG GOAL #2 Increase Learning on Twitter (Tweetdeck):

Twitter provides a unique social learning environment, It gives a space for intellectual engagement through live interactions with others. Katie and Lindsay underscore the importance of Twitter in their book, “Twitter provides students with a digital space to connect with other readers and authors to share and discuss books.”   However, due to its organization and fast pace, Twitter can be daunting. There is a solution. Tweetdeck is a web-based tool that helps users to organize their Tweets into more manageable columns. It offers many useful features such as enabling users to “pre-tweet” or schedule tweets ahead of time. This is especially useful when planning and facilitating Twitter chats.To learn more, watch this video.

Big Goal #3 Collect Formative Data technology:

Understanding why a goal is important is essential, answering what you will do to accomplish the goal ties it to an action. This article offers 15 dynamic ways to make reflection a habit of mind in the classroom. In their book, Katie and Lindsay remind us that, “In the 21st Century, information is updated and readily available in real time.” Collaboration, and reflection begin with us. Teachers who lead by example, are the ones who will give students experiences that will help them grow to meet their potential.

Big Goal #4 Skype Visits (Kate Messenger’s blog):

If you visit Kate Messenger’s blog, you will see that she has created a platform to connect readers and authors through FREE Skype visits. Technology offers virtually limitless opportunities to provide access that would otherwise had been impossible. All we have to do is step out and take a risk and try. In Katie and Lindsay’s words “It is through the struggle that we learn. Additionally, the struggle provides you with thoughts and ideas to share with your students…”

Big Goal #5 Integrate Flipgrid:

Flipgrid allows teachers to create video discussion platforms. There are so many creative ways to incorporate this technology tool that are too numerous for this blog post! The important thing about Flipgrid is that it is a tool that amplifies student voice from pre-K to college aged students and beyond. It’s ok to start small with this technology, but the important thing is just to start. We need to start because we are  educators, “As teachers we have the responsibility to equip our students with the tools that they need to fully participate in our interconnected, global society.”  – Stover & Yearta

Thank you for writing this book Katie and Lindsay. It is an incredible resource that teachers need to have in their hands so they can put your ideas to work in their classrooms. I especially love that at the close of your book you extend an invitation to keep the conversation going through Twitter. That’s just what you did, and now we have even more resources and ideas to explore. That is is what learning is all about, and we are educators who fully embrace a learning lifestyle. We are flexible thinkers who are  fueled by a collaborative spirit ready to take the next step forward together.

LInks to share…

From Pencils to Podcasts by Katie Stover Kelly and Lindsay Yearta

https://www.solutiontree.com/products/from-pencils-to-podcasts.html

Review by Troy Hicks

https://hickstro.org/2017/05/17/review-of-stover-and-yeartas-from-pencils-to-podcasts/