by Mary Howard
On August 29, 2012, my 2nd book was published: Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters(Heinemann). I was thrilled when that book became the source of #G2great twitter chat on 1/8/15, as reflected below and in our Wakelet artifact.
Since this chat launch, our team has changed over the years and now includes fellow founding member, Jenn Hayhurst with co moderators Fran McVeigh and Brent Gilson. We have also been very fortunate to have the supportive guidance and input from Towanda Harris. Across the years our mission statement has guided our thinking.
For seven years, I’ve been honored to write our anniversary blog posts. As always, our anniversary topic will be my reflection centerpiece: Professional Transformation: From Possibility to Action. In this post, I’ll view transformation from a dual perspective:
Transformation from the lens of #G2great twitter chat across the years
Transformation from the lens of those who joined our chat on 1/5/23.
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT TRANSFORMATION
I found two pertinent definitions describing TRANSFORMATION as a noun:
1) a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance
2) an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed
While transformation can be “thorough” and “dramatic” as shown in the first definition, I lean more heavily on the second one that views transformation as a PROCESS. I consider the most essential feature of transformation step-by-step change that occurs OVER TIME (not OVERnight). In other words, there is no end point as illustrated by key words “transformING and “BEING transformed.” I began my professional journey in 1972 and 51 years later, I continue to reside in a constant state of becoming. My belief in continued professional learning helps me fine tune, confirm and adjust my thinking. Like so many other educators, I’ve traversed along a meandering path on a never-ending transformational journey. Some changes are more time consuming and demanding than others and may be accompanied by the push and pull of comfort and discomfort given the inevitable uncertainty of any transformational process
These related words that accompanied the definitions seemed fitting:
The terms and the definition I’ve chosen to highlight reflect an internal shift with the POTENTIAL to be transformative. I use the word “POTENTIAL” very intentionally since transformation requires responsibility. Simply adding furniture, doing an activity viewed on social media, or joining a questionable facebook group blindly is devoid of transformative potential when those things are based on the popular idea of the moment rather than sound research support. Transformation is an active rather than passive process and is only possible when we explore and awaken research supported beliefs with intent and then transform those beliefs into action where it will have the most impact – with children. Impact assumes that there is benefit to the decision maker as professional (teacher) and recipient as learner (students).
Sadly, a quick fix educational culture further escalated by COVID-19 and efforts to use this to justify the battle cry of “learning loss” has compromised how we view change. Transformation has nothing to do with performing like mindless puppets according to the mandates of others (often with little or no benefit of experience or knowledge of literacy and children). Transformation takes time, dedication, an ongoing quest for professional knowledge, and an unwavering belief that no one-size-fits-all script can dictate the direction lifelong learners of literacy committed to individual children can understand.
I’d like to begin this discussion from the perspective of our #G2Great eight-year labor of love and then close this post by sharing some twitter thinking from our anniversary chat discussion on 1/5/23.
THE TRANSFORMATIONAL PROCESS OF #G2Great CHAT: THEN TO NOW
#G2Great chat has actively engaged in a transformational process across the years. We have made a wide range of concrete shifts on behalf of our chat and those who grace us with conversational wisdom via twitter. This “collective community of invitational conversations” and transformational opportunities those conversations have afforded us have motivated our team to make these shifts on your behalf and thus keep #G2Great alive and fresh.
EARLY SIGNS OF A #G2Great TRANSFORMATION
The conversations that have taken place week after week on #G2Great chat have become our transformational drive since we opened our twitter doors. The first part of that change process began in mere weeks when we made the decision to transform our initial vision of a book study that would end after ten weeks into a long-term chat that continues seven years later. But we didn’t stop there. My book was initially the focus, but we shifted to topics beyond my book on 3/19/15 with Engaging Stakeholders in Deeper and More Meaningful Ways. On 7/16/15 we explored an amazing TedX talk with Kimberly Davis: What it Means to be Brave.
We soon recognized that we had an incredible platform to spotlight wonderful books and engage in twitter style conversation with a virtual Who’s Who of authors. Our first book spotlight was with Lisa Eickholdt in a two-part book study on 9/3/15 and 9/10/15: Learning From Classmates: Using Students’ Writing as Mentor Texts.
Since that time, professional books have remained a major chat feature and we’re honored that many remarkable authors have shared their gift with us. This motivated us to adjust the number and source of chat questions as we invited our authors to craft their own questions in honor of their book and the wonderings that they wanted to invite.
CONTINUING OUR #G2Great TRANSFORMATION PROCESS
Once we made these initial shifts in our ongoing transformational process, we continuously explored and applied other shifts over time:
• Wakelet Artifacts: We’ve collected each chat since our 2015 launch so that educators can revisit previous chats. Our Wakelet collection offers a home for inspired thinking.
• Literacy Lenses Blog: We knew that a blog would add a new layer of reflection so on our first anniversary on 1/7/16 we launched Literacy Lenses . Since then every chat is accompanied by a reflection in our blog.
We initiated the first of nine series on 2/4/16 to highlight a common topic with related areas of focus over 4 to 5 weeks: Holding Tight to Practices that Matter: read aloud • shared reading • conferring • small groups • independent reading.
STUDENT AS TEACHERS
Our belief that students have great wisdom to share led to inviting our first student guest was Sam Fremin: Shifting Our Perspective: Viewing Our Teaching from a Students Lens followed by several #BowTieBoy chats: Exploring Instruction from Our Students’ Eyes, Paul Sinanis: Instilling a Life-Long Love of Reading from a Student Lens, and Olivia Van Ledtje based on her book, Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World
We added alternate texts we knew would inspire conversations with a few firsts:
• Article study with Alfie Kohn: Is Learning “Lost” When Kids Are Out of School?
• Podcast study with Nell Duke and Colleen Cruz: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice
• Blog Study with Vicki Vinton and Aeriale Johnson: Do We Underestimate the Students We Teach?
BUSINESS WORLD CONNECTION
We stepped outside of an education box so that we could connect with authors who lived in the business world but made connections to literacy including Kimberly Davis: Learning Our Way to Professional Excellence; Drew Dudley: This is Day One and Jody Carrington: Kids These Days.
Over the years we’ve included many administrators including a 2016 Leadership series including Dennis Schug, Natalie Miller, Tony Sinanis, and Matt Renwick and Seth Berg. We also created a chat from a schoolwide focus with Mike Oliver, principal of Zaharis Elementary with Beyond Borders: A Journey to Becoming
EQUITY, DIVERSITY & ANTI RACISM
We’ve been fortunate that remarkable authors have widened our perspectives, understandings and commitment to continued learning and growth such as:
• Gholdy Muhammad: Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy
• Sonja Cherry-Paul: Stamped for Kids: Racism, Antiracism and You
• Matthew R. Kay: Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom
• Lorena Germán: Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices
• Liz Kleinrock: Start Here, Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community
• Kim Parker: Literacy is Liberation: Working Toward Justice Through Culturally Relevant Teaching
• Afrika Afeni Mills: Open Windows, Open Minds: Developing Anti-Racist Pro-Human Students
CONTINUING CHANGES IN THE 2021-2022 #G2Great CHAT YEAR SEVEN
We recognized that many educators had not written a book we could spotlight but were doing amazing things worth celebrating. In this spirit we added our Educator Spotlight chats to honor their contributions to literacy with Nawal Qarooni: Our Collective Strength: Children As Curriculum; Paul Hankins: Everything’s a Remix and Islah Tauheed: Teaching as a Radical Act
We explored a slower chat format for discussion across a day. A SLOW CHAT allowed educators to respond to questions at their leisure such as Professional Reflection as a Stepping stone to Decision Making and Fueled by Collective Curiosity and Collaborative Conversation. Since change may also require us to LET GO of our choices, we alleviated this format since it did not invite the active discussions we knew teachers needed.
BLAST FROM THE PAST:
After 7 years of weekly twitter chats, we knew it was important to revisit past chats that with new eyes and fresh questions including What It Means to be BRAVE with Kimberly Davis Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-8 Classroom by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke and Maximizing Student Engagement in Literacy Across the School Day (Topic)
We began to notice common topics and themes across books and created book pairings that would offer two back-to-back weeks of books with a related topic:
1) TALK: Building Bigger Ideas: A Process for Teaching Purposeful Talk by Maria Nichols and Hands Down, Speak Out: Literacy and Talking Across Literacy and Math by Kassia Wedekind and Christy Thompson (this was our first book connecting math and literacy with later addition of Allison Hintz and Antony T. Smith: Mathematizing Children’s Literature: Sparking Connections, Joy and Wonder.)
2) TRANSLANGUAGING: Rooted in Strength: Using Translanguaging to Grow Multilingual Readers and Writers by Cecelia Espinosa and Laura Ascenzi-Moreno and En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students by Carla España and Luz Yadira Herrera
As you can see, our #G2Great chat has been in a state of transformational change across the seven years our chat has been in existence. This year, we believe it’s time for a step in our transformation as we look ahead to year 8.
OUR BIGGEST TRANSFORMATIONAL SHIFT YET IN 2023
The shift that we’re making this year was not taken lightly; based on thoughtful observation, conversation and contemplation as a team with careful thought across two years. For seven years, we’ve held weekly twitter chats. As you can imagine, this has required constant planning and commitment across 357 chats to date and counting. We know that this also makes it more difficult for our chat family to attend weekly, especially in challenging times. Yet, we also know that in challenging times, we need a safe space for conversation and collaboration. This year, we will adjust our calendar for the first time in our 7-year history:
#G2Great CALENDAR TRANSFORMATION IN THE 2023 CHAT YEAR
Effective on our first twitter chat on 1/5/23, we are making these changes:
- MONTHLY chat on the 1st Thursday of each month
- Same time slot will apply from 8:30-9:30 EST
- Occasional 2nd Thursday slot for paired books/topics
- Continued references including Wakelets and blog posts
- The addition of a new monthly twitter chat (see below)
ANNOUNCING A NEW TWITTER CHAT WITH BRENT GILSON
Brent Gilson is one of our #G2great moderators. If you follow him on Twitter, Lifting Literacy Facebook Group or his blog, “Things Mr. G Says”, you know the amazing things that Brent is doing with his students and his gift for engaging educators in thoughtful conversations. Brent’s new twitter chat will be called “Lifting Literacy” and it will occur on the last Thursday of each month at the same 8:30-9:30 EST time slot. His first chat launch is on 1/26/23 with a book study on Angela Stockman’s new book, The Writing Workshop Teacher’s Guide to Multimodal Composition (grades 6-12) as shown below. Brent will also maintain a chat blog on his Lifting Literacy Website.
To help you keep up with both of these chats as well as reminders of off weeks, we have added a COMING SOON section on our chat blog. Upcoming chats will be added here so that you can plan accordingly (see the top right corner) and we will also continue to advertise new chats on twitter at #G2Great.
MY CLOSING THOUGHTS AS WE BEGIN YEAR EIGHT OF #G2Great
With our transformational process in mind, Seth Godin’s words seem fitting.
Over the course of our seven-year history and counting, we have added, deleted modified and questioned many things as a team. The one thing that never changed, however, was our weekly schedule. We feel certain that our EIGHTH anniversary is the right time for this shift to a monthly chat. We are still very committed to our #G2Great chat and to the wonderful educators who join our twitter conversations. We are are not going away but simply continuing one more phase in our ongoing transformational process. We will consistently keep an eye on our #G2great page and respond whether we are holding a chat that week or not. We hope that you’ll continue to share your thinking with us and join future chats in the coming year.
We are so grateful to those of you who have attended our chat and engaged in the conversational twitter style dialogue that has inspired us to continue our #G2Great labor of love. Each chat is created in your honor and we always gain new insight through your eyes. We are excited to explore the 2023 year with each of you who make your way back to our chat and invite your input. We look forward to learning through new conversations in the coming year.
In closing, let’s look at a few tweets shared on our 8th Anniversary chat:
1-5-23 ANNIVERSARY CHAT TWITTER WISDOM LAUNCHING 2023 Professional Transformation: From Possibility to Action