Risk. Fail. Rise. A Teacher’s Guide to Learning From Mistakes

by Fran McVeigh

Wakelet link of chat artifacts here

Neither the weather or the continuing pandemic was able to dampen spirits and pull folks away from the #G2Great chat with Colleen Cruz on Thursday, February 11, 2021. As we began planning for this chat, I worried about being able to write about both the book and chat in a credible fashion that would do justice to the brilliance shared. As the chat ensued, I realized that I was right to worry with so much greatness packed into a 60 minute chat!

I first met Colleen almost eight years ago when she was my staff developer at my initial Writing Institute at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Eye opening. Jaw dropping. Work. Writing. Learning. And in the interest of full disclosure I have learned from Colleen, live and in person or virtually, every year since as I continue to grow my own literacy knowledge and skills.

Colleen is a teacher, a staff developer, an author, and an editor. She’s witty, fun, and avowedly “pessimistic” as she intertwines stories and research in her work and to help you envision possibilities. Previous #G2Great chats have been discussed in these blog posts: The Unstoppable Writing Teacher: Real Strategies for the Real Classroom, Writers Read Better: 50+ Paired Lessons That Turn Writing Craft Work into Powerful Genre Reading, and Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice Podcast with Nell Duke and Colleen Cruz.

So where to really start with this mutual adoration of Colleen Cruz and her brilliance, this book and the chat? I reread all of my notes about Colleen’s books and presentations. I perused the Wakelet artifact from this chat and liked or retweeted almost a hundred tweets that included every single one from Colleen. How to organize? How to find a manageable set of tasks to meet my purpose: What to share in this post?

A Mistake. Two paired tweets from Colleen from the last question in the chat.

The initial tweet: research, current connection, a link (https://news.emory.edu/stories/2020/04/esc_covid_19_family_stories/campus.html), and a mistake. How did Colleen respond? Did she ignore her mistake? Did she deny it? Did she embrace it? Did she offer a bit of humor? How we respond to mistakes matters.

Let’s back up. What are mistakes?

The following tweets offer a glimpse into definitions of mistakes. You can learn more from the text excerpt, the audio book or the Heinemann blog listed below in the resources. Mistakes are hard to define unless you spend some time thinking about what they are and what they are not as #g2great team member Val Kimmel offers in the second tweet. Stacey and Nadine add on to the learning properties of mistakes.

What are the different types of mistakes?

Getting beyond mistakes are “good” or “bad” takes some work or study. Not all mistakes are equal. Four kinds of mistakes include: stretch mistakes, aha moment mistakes, sloppy mistakes, and high-stakes mistakes. You can read more about those at Heineman here, “Not All Mistakes are Good”, check out the Facebook Live series here, or read from Eduardo Briceno at either Mind/Shift here or his Ted Talk here.

The goal: to be aware of the types of mistakes, when they happen, why they happen, your response to mistakes, and the effects of those mistakes. This will take study, thoughtful reflection and a bit of self-awareness. The danger is in continuing on the path of sloppy and high-stakes mistakes after knowing that these are harmful. Many sloppy and high-stakes mistakes are avoidable with careful attention to our words and actions. I wondered about characterizing Colleen’s Tweet mistake above as one of the four types . . . and yet, without an edit button in Twitter, mistakes can easily happen from nimble fingers on less than responsive keyboards. I didn’t see the mistake when I first saw the second tweet as I read the word “msitake” as I expected it to be – during the fast pace of the chat – rather than the word as presented on the screen.

My past week and two mistakes …

1. Missed a webinar. I signed in on the last five minutes. Yes, sloppy mistake on the time zone recording on my calendar. I emailed and apologized for missing and will take greater care in recording/checking the times on my calendar. (Self care? Definitely a tired mistake!)

2. Fabric rows on my quilt did not match. Border and final two rows were more than an inch longer than the above 7 rows. At the time, I thought it was a high-stakes mistake, but it was really a stretch mistake as this was my first “pieced” quilt and I had never even thought about the difference in the rows. Future: check and double check connecting rows as the pieces are assembled.

Fran’s notes

Are all mistakes equal? When do we give grace? And to whom?

Jill’s tweet above is the bridge between reflecting and learning and offering ourselves grace. Mistakes are not a cause for self-flagellation. Mistakes vary according to the type as to intent and impact. Even more, our responses vary. Do we automatically offer grace to some students? Do we like to share our magnanimity with the entire class when we bestow grace? Which students have to earn grace? All of these are questions just about grace that stem from Colleen’s tweet below. The most “telling” factor may be “Who do we withhold it (grace) from?”

So now what?

Think of a recent mistake of your own. Which of the types was it? What was your response? What is your plan for next time?

Now think of a recent student mistake. What happened? What type was it? What was your response? What might you say or do differently? Do you know enough? Consider which of the resources below will be helpful?

As Colleen Cruz says in Risk. Fail. Rise. and Val and Mary emphasize above, the value in studying our mistakes is so we “can learn to separate our ego and form a mistake-welcoming culture.” Mistakes as learning experiences. Mistakes as a sign of growth and a source of data to use to ascertain growth.

Where will you begin? And when?

Links and Resources for Further Exploration:

https://blog.heinemann.com/topic/risk-fail-rise – the Heinemann Blog with access to the podcast, audiobook sample, blogposts and FB live events

www.colleencruz.com – my website for upcoming events and to contact me

@colleen_cruz Follow Colleen’s Twitter handle

BLog: Not All Mistakes are Good: Identifying the Types of Mistakes Teachers Make https://blog.heinemann.com/not-all-mistakes-are-good?utm_campaign=Cruz&utm_content=144005030&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&hss_channel=fbp-96011276891

Every Child Can Write

by Fran McVeigh

The #G2Great team exuberantly welcomed Melanie Meehan to the October 3, 2019 chat two days after Every Child Can Write: Entry Points, Bridges, and Pathways for Striving Writers entered the world. As I pondered both entry points and organization for this post, I decided to begin with Melanie’s words in response to our three basic author questions.

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

Every day I get to work with writers across all grades and across all levels. Because of my work, I have seen the impact of increasing access and entry points for writers that has led to growth for these students, regardless of functioning levels. 

Very few people enjoy a struggle when they don’t believe they will overcome it, so we have to figure out ways to make the learning and growth seem possible to everyone in the community– especially to the writer. There really is a big difference between thinking about students as struggling or thinking about them as striving, and I hope that people who read this book come away re-examining their beliefs about students.

So often our beliefs become our truths. I want everyone– including and especially our children– to believe that every child can write, and then I want teachers to have practical strategies and resources to help make that happen.

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

Not everyone is ready for the same curriculum and instruction on the same day, but it’s overwhelming to deliver an entirely separate lesson for students who aren’t getting it. That being said, the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development as described by Lev Vygotsky is a game changer for me. We can’t keep asking students to try out tasks and strategies that are way beyond their reach and ability, and it’s exhausting to create scaffold after scaffold that helps writers create a product without understanding the process. When we do that, we’re sending messages over and over that they can’t do it without us or the scaffolds we create. With those consistent messages, it’s human nature to stop trying and avoid the task or situation all together. So how do we change it up in ways that empower students, but is within the realm of possibility for teachers? That’s where reconsidering entry points may welcome students into the learning process. Or maybe it’s constructing bridges so that students have different ways to join the process. That’s where those metaphors that make up the title come it. I hope that teachers see practical and possible ways to teach all students to write. 

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

Our job is to find the entry points and provide the access so that students are challenged and moving forward without being overwhelmed and over-scaffolded. We live in a world where being able to write is a critically important and empowering skill. We can all teach them to write when we believe they can and we have the tools and understandings.

So many times even when students look like they are paying attention, they have no idea of what the lesson is really about. Engagement, interest, caring about something– those have to be in place for not only behavior, but also for academic growth. I feel like I keep repeating myself, but the message of the book is that all children can write.

Why this book?

I am a bibliophile. I probably need a 12 step program because I am addicted to books. I love to explore the ideas in a book through multiple readings. I also love to meet authors and hear about the books in their own voices. So when an author that I admire professionally writes a book, I study it pretty carefully. I was waiting for this book for months. I asked Melanie about it in March over coffee. We put the chat on the schedule in June, and Melanie submitted the quotes and questions in record time.

And then I finally had a copy to read. Every Child Can Write had me hooked from the first reading of the Table of Contents – written in complete sentences. Thorough. Thoughtful. Timely. With provocative yet practical ideas. Well organized – so well organized that I read it from cover to cover, TWICE, before I drafted my first blog post. I reread some parts, read the Blog Tour posts, revised my draft, and studied the blog posts again. I was worried about capturing the essence TWICE and doing justice to this gorgeous addition to the professional world.

This book is based on these beliefs:

1. All children can learn to write. 2. It is a fundamental imperative that we do everything in our power to teach the students in our care how to express themselves through words and through writing. – Meehan, M. Every Child Can Write. xviii.

Who has to have those beliefs?

Students and teachers alike have to believe that all students can write and that is fundamental to every chapter in Melanie’s book. It’s also fundamental to the literacy instruction in classrooms around the world. All students. All teachers.

What are obstacles that interfere with student writing?

Beliefs are the beginning. Then instruction has to match those beliefs. Sometimes the instruction does not meet the students’ needs. What obstacles might interfere with learning? Check out a sampling of responses from our twitter chat. Have you heard these from your students or teachers?

Knowing “potential obstacles” can help you address obstacles confronting writers in your classroom. Do the students need practice? Do they need choice? Do they need confidence? Crowd sourcing these possibilities from a #G2Great Twitter Chat is one way teachers can step outside their current practices, sharpen their focus, turn their gaze back to their students, and study them anew. (The responses to “perfectionism” as an obstacle can be found in the Wakelet link.) You may also have collaborative conversations with your grade level team to explore improvements in environment, routines, practices and usage of charts through a book study. Every Child Can Write provides support for instruction and problem solving with entry points, bridges and pathways to help striving writers gain independence.

What do you need? Entry points? Bridges? Pathways?

Where will you begin?

Additional Resources:

Blog Tour Stop 1 with Clare Landrigan – Link

Blog Tour Stop 2 with Kathleen Sokolowski – Link

Blog Tour Stop 3 with Paula Bourque – Link

Blog Tour Stop 4 with Lynne Dorfman – Link

Blog Tour Stop 5 with Fran McVeigh – Resourceful Link

FYI:  I reviewed an advance prepublication copy of “Every Child Can Write” that was available for the #G2Great team.

The Right Tools, Towanda Harris #G2Great

By, Jenn Hayhurst

Access to Wakelet by clicking here.

Disclaimer Alert: I Love Tools!

It’s true, I have a soft spot for tools. From my earliest memories, I have loved working with tools. My father would invite me into his garage and would marvel at the hooks and draws and bins full of useful devices that could help a person get any job done. My love for tools has remained constant, just the other day I inventoried my kitchen tools to assess which ones were most useful. I love tools because they help us to perform at higher levels, to be more independent, and to feel empowered to make a change. Tools make my teacher’s heart sing.

Needless to say, when Towanda Harris agreed to join our #G2Great community… I was VERY enthusiastic! On August 15, 2019, Towanda Harris initiated a discussion stemming from her beautiful new book, so aptly named, The Right Tools, that I believe, will be a book teachers will use and love.

Instructional tools offer a pathway towards active learning and aides for assessment for our students. They are mediators engender high levels of engagement and support. So, why aren’t we all using tools on a regular basis? Towanda, spoken like the true teacher puts it simply,

Today, we often find ourselves facing a dizzying array of materials and resources, whether they be a box of dusty skills cards handed down from a retiring teacher a professional book passed on by a colleague, a unit plan saved from a previous year, a teacher’s manual found in the back of a storage cabinet, a procedure recommended by a supervisor, a program required by a district, a book reviewed on a blog, a set of activi- ties discussed on Twitter, a chart found on Pinterest, a unit downloaded from a website, or a strategy highlighted in a brochure or an email. But how do we know which of these will help the children in our classrooms? How do we find helpful new resources without squandering funding or instructional time?

Towanda Harris, The Right Tools, xii Introduction

How do we begin? This post is dedicated to beginning the process.

I feel so privileged to share the voices of the #G2Great community. Thank you for sharing your expertise so that we may grow our understandings of this important topic.

Having well-defined criteria for what tools are brought into the classroom is an important first step. When developing a criterion, we begin as Towanda suggests, with clarity for the tool’s “purpose” so they may meet students where they are. While Travis reminds us to consider the appeal of tools, is they “kid-centric” if kids don’t like them they won’t use them. Mollie brings us back to basics as she reminds us to keep tools grounded in authentic opportunities for use. Sonja comes at tools from another perspective, when she tweeted that the best tools are flexible ones that “bend.” So true!

Tools offer teachers opportunities to be responsive to students needs. Faige, adds her voice to the conversation as she explains that criteria for tools cannot be set unless teachers have time to observe the students who are in the room, she invites us to consider students’ “interests, needs, and strengths”. Towanda echos this truth as she perks our attention to knowing “learning styles” so we may avoid that “one size fits all” mentality that becomes a roadblock for a successful transfer to independent use. As always, Mary brings the discussion back home, as she implores us to be “honest” in our estimation of tried and true tools we love as educators. We have to always be reflective to make sure we really do have the right tool for the job. Laura, says it best I think when it comes down to the underpinning for criteria for tools, “Students are criteria” Know your students first, then develop or offer the tools they need to be successful.

This post offers just a snapshot of the conversation we had about tools. I do encourage you to go to the archive if you missed the chat. It is a treasure trove of ideas that could spark a meaningful discourse for any Professional Learning Community, (PLC).

On behalf of my #G2Great team, I’d like to thank Dr. Towanda Harris for joining us for this meaningful discussion. Teachers everywhere are organizing and getting their resources together to kick off the school year. With books like, “The Right Tools” in hand they will get closer to “great practice”, and that is what teaching from a learning stance is really all about.

Instructional Design with Students in Mind

by Mary Howard

On March 29, 2018 #G2Great settled in to initiate an important conversation as we explored the topic, Instructional Design with Students in Mind. Teaching with “students in mind” has been a recurrent #G2Great theme since your chat co-moderators (Mary, Fran, Jenn, Amy) believe deeply that effective teaching is student-centered rather than publisher or teacher-driven. Over the past three years, we have celebrated this theme even if the words students in mind didn’t appear in the title.

This week, our dialogue focused on varied instructional design areas that include read-aloud, conferring and small groups; the impact of workshop model; and the role of productive struggle, predictable structures and transfer. As I looked back at the inspired tweets that rose from our chat discussion, I was immediately struck by the interconnectedness of these components that help us to keep students at the center of those practices.

Based on this observation, I realized that it made sense to focus this post on that interconnectedness. Instruction cannot occur in a vacuum where each component is considered in isolation but how those components can work in tandem. In other words, powerful “pieces” of instructional design combine seamlessly across every learning day as they begin to intersect into a proverbial instructional puzzle that is much bigger and far more powerful than those “pieces” could be on their own. I am convinced that our ability to create an instructional design with students in mind will require us to explore that design from a global instructional perspective.

With this idea driving my thinking, I decided to address our questions collectively and noticed Seven Student-Centered Design Themes. Not surprisingly, these themes are also interconnected as I considered each one using an overarching driving question, “How do we keep students at the center of our day-to-day practices?”

Student-Centered Design Theme #1: BE COMMITTED

The source of our commitment and a central feature of this discussion was clearly the idea of falling in love with reading and writing through daily engagement designed to increase volume. We understand that keeping students at the center assumes that we are able to address both the instructional and emotional needs of our learners. This design theme is purposefully placed in the first position as 0ur willingness to celebrate or ignore this theme can dramatically impact student learning for better or for worse. Instilling lifelong love of literacy and maximizing the critical role of volume is central to our  student-centered design theme.

Student-Centered Design Theme #2: BE RESPONSIVE

In an age where scripted programs continue to spread like a virus across our schools, it is more important than ever for us to remain steadfastly responsive to the unique needs of students. These programs are riddled with preconceived questions that come with predetermined answers, thus putting the program at the center while crowding children out of their rightful place. When we generate more questions than we ask and create opportunities that respect student thinking in the context of learning, we make a much-needed shift from program or teacher-driven instructional design to a focus on student-centered learning.

Student-Centered Design Theme #3: BE CURIOUS

Another important theme explore teachers’ role as dedicated professional noticers. As teachers who are thoughtful and curious about children, we know that we must pause within the learning moments. These moments give us time to step inside the learning process so that we can gaze upon and ponder what we see and hear and what that means. Through these reflective wonderings, new possibilities begin to come into view and help us to consider next step opportunities. This continuous cycle allows us to move seamlessly between a fluctuating role as teacher and learner so that we can happily follow a curiosity-inspired trail to greater understandings.

Student-Centered Design Theme #4: BE INVITATIONAL

As we become more curiosity-inspired, we begin to recognize the impact of our practices when we embrace an invitational spirit. This happens when we are able to let go of the ineffective notion of the teacher as leader at the helm of the ship so that we can step aside as students to assume the lead role. We acknowledge that in doing so we are also inviting students to wade in the productive struggle pool of potential, knowing that they will emerge victorious and better for it as we wait in the wings to offer feedback, encouragement and carefully timed support that does not rob them of opportunities to linger at the thinking helm without us.

Student-Centered Design Theme #5: BE FLEXIBLE

As we begin to relinquish our own responsibility in order to give students increasing ownership of this process, we must also learn to change our mindset by assuming a flexible stance. We acknowledge that flexibility comes with great rewards and so we are willing to let go to contemplate the opportunities that rise from this flexibility. This shift to a broader view of options can come with uncertainty that allows us to expect the unexpected and notice wonderful surprises that come our way as a result. This does not mean that we do not have a map to guide us, but that we are willing to meander our way to new pathways informed by students engaged in the messy process of learning.

Student-Centered Design Theme #6: BE INTENTIONAL

Across the chat, the idea of being intentional in our efforts to keep students at the center of all we do was celebrated. While intentionality was peppered across each of the chat questions, this topic almost always took us full circle to how we could use this new view to promote transfer of learning. Intentionality is not a passive process but one that requires us to be professionally purposeful as we recognize that transfer is the gold standard of all we do. Without transfer, “learning” will remain forever just out of reach, so we keep this ultimate goal in our sights at all times. In this way, we ensure that learning will not be stuck in a single teaching experience but will live on through exposure within varied contexts.

Student-Centered Design Theme #7: BE JOYFUL

It seems appropriate that our last design theme brings us full circle back to the first one and is the thread that is interwoven across the other five. Our commitment to love of reading and volume bring us back to joyful and magical learning that merge into synonymous understandings. It was clear from the beginning to the end of the chat that our efforts to keep students at the center of learning always comes back to our desire to motivate, inspire, engage and beckon our children into joyful literacy. We agreed that magical book experiences were the main ingredient of that joy and recognized that our ability to approach learning with a celebratory lens focused squarely on our learners was critical to the joy process from both a teaching and learning perspective. And though this perspective we can enrich and elevate our ability to keep students in mind.

The dedication of the professional family that Fran, Amy, Jenn and I have worked tirelessly to gather together every Thursday night on #G2Great is a testament to our recurring theme of keeping students in mind in every aspects of instruction. Our incredible collaborative learners do not gather on #G2Great in a quest for one-size-fits all narrow activities. Rather, they gather to engage in a shared learning that will inspire each of us to become our best selves so our students can become their best selves. This is the heart and soul of our goal to keep students in mind. The dialogue that lifts #G2Great into Twitter trending each week reflects the student-centered devotion that our #G2Great educators bring gloriously to life in classrooms across the country.

And we are honored to celebrate the heartbeat of those conversations!

 

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

 

Instructional Differentiation as a Daily Professional Priority

guest blogger Valinda Kimmel

We are so honored that guest blogger Val wrote our #G2Great post this week. Val is an instructional coach and blogger.

The idea of differentiating instruction to accommodate the different ways that students learn involves a hefty dose of common sense, as well as sturdy support in the theory and research of education (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000). It is an approach to teaching that advocates active planning for student differences in classrooms.

Differentiated instruction can, for many educators, be a Pandora’s Box of sorts. We know there are powerful outcomes when we commit to research-based instructional moves that enrich learning for all kids, but if we’re honest, we also worry about the burden and hardship.

Every educator understands the cost of thoughtful, careful instructional planning based on close observation of the kids in their care. We know it, and at the same time we must admit that for many of us, we dread it.

It’s clear the time, energy, additional research-reading that must take place for an intentional approach that “advocates active planning for (all) student differences…”

This week’s #G2Great chat was the perfect antidote for our teacher fear of all that differentiation entails. We begin, I believe, by reflecting on the very questions guiding the chat tonight; the profound, rudimentary bits of an indomitable approach to teaching that’s committed to personalized instruction for all our kids.

Mary Howard shared, “Differentiation reflects our commitment to see each child through a lens of their uniquely individual learning/emotional needs.”

When we’re able to start from that understanding, that teaching kids is as simple as celebrating their uniqueness, we allow ourselves and our beloved students room for genuine growth. When we’re able to begin with an inclination to see and celebrate all our students’ endowments, we start with promise and not privation. When we choose to think of differentiation as a “student-centered” mindset then we open up the possibility that every day holds tremendous possibility and opportunity for joy. Joy in discovering the unique assets (and needs) of each child in our care.

Joy in the journey.

Enjoy #G2Great Differentiation Tweets below