What matters most?  Reverence or Relevance?

By Fran McVeigh

In the week leading up to this chat on July 19, 2018, I wondered about the title and where it would take the chat. I consulted the dictionary and the thesaurus. I even discussed the topic with a co-moderator. I wanted an idea or a theme in mind to “jump start” my thinking. A spark.  An angle. A beginning point. After all . . . I was going to be at #ILA18 and my goal was to not spend all weekend writing a blog post. So here’s a small snapshot of what I discovered.

Synonyms for Reverence (Source link)

Synonyms for Relevance  (Source link)

Reverence:  High opinion.

Relevance:  Pertinence.  

The “or” in the title suggests one or the other.

Flip a coin. It’s a high opinion.  

Flip again. It’s pertinent.  

But . . .

I have this queasy feeling in my stomach.

When is high opinion enough?

When the teacher says, “I like it.” ???

When the teacher says, “It has research to support it.” ???

When the administrator says, “This is what I bought.” ???

When is pertinence enough?

When the teacher says, “This is what my kids need.” ???

When the teacher says, “It worked this way for my students last year but I think if I try this one little change, it may work even better.” ???

When the administrator says, “Have you checked with others about this idea? And with whom?” ???

Before you make a decision about what you want (those things you revere) or what is needed (or relevant), let’s review this curated sample of #G2Great community tweets. The link for the entire Wakelet (archive) is at the bottom of this page.

What are our beliefs?

Meaningful, purposeful work:  What are we in awe of?

Goals:  What are we in awe of?  What do we believe is best for students?

Collaboration and Goal-Setting:  How do we keep students at the center?

Time:  How do we allocate and use time to reflect what we revere and what is relevant?

Talk:  How do we ensure that students talk more in the service of learning than the teacher?

Eureka . . .

What if, instead of trying to decide whether we need to start, continue, or stop doing something because of its reverence or relevance, we decided that both factors would be part of the same lens or filter? What if reverence AND relevance became a double simultaneous filter for reviewing and reflecting on our teaching needs and desires?

And as I participated in the chat in the midst of a group of #G2Great dear friends,

Quietly

Concentrating

Reading

Writing

Giggling occasionally

Greeting passer-bys

Reverence and relevance both merged together in Brent’s Canva of a quote from Dr. Mary Howard here.

. . . amazing child . . . notice and nurture . . . incredible potential . . . that resides in each child . . . without exception!

If that’s our vision and our goal how can we not use our understanding of reverence and relevance together?

And now that you have read through a curated set of tweets, just think about what learning in our classrooms could be if we asked students to “curate their learning daily.”  What possibilities do you envision?

Copy of Wakelet here

 

Exploring Big Ideas to Maximize Schoolwide Potential with Dennis Schug

By Jenn Hayhurst

Title

On September 1, 2016 #G2Great concluded our five-part leadership series, Exploring Seven Big Ideas to Maximize Schoolwide Potential with guest host Dennis Schug. Dennis is the principal of Hampton Bays Middle School in Hampton Bays, NY and he reminded us that leadership and learning go hand-in-hand:  “It’s critically important that we as school leaders model that we’re learners first. Our colleagues and students will follow.”     

How do we get to that “sweet spot”  Dennis describes so that we can encourage learning and growth for all members of a school community?  Promoting a positive school environment begins with three building blocks: Communication, Collaboration, and Professional Learning.

Everyone who participated in Thursday night’s chat embraced these building blocks and began an important discussion that needs to live beyond our chat. How do we continue to evolve our practices to expand our circle of influence? Learning and leadership are both within our grasp, and this how we will begin to unlock our personal and professional potential.  The conversation that followed revealed the dedication and “can do” spirit that these remarkable educators bring to the table every day when we open up…

Building Block One: OPENING UP  to what is possible – a  free flow of communication:

Building Block One: Dennis inspired us all to think about how communication opens the door to professional learning. My friend and mentor, Amy Brennan has been know to say, “I think better in the company of of others.” I completely agree! It is our professional responsibility to engage in a healthy back and forth dialogue about the issues that matter most in our schools.  This is extremely complex work and it requires us all to think deeply to find common ground. The time is now to build on a plurality, through compassion and a shared vision that welcomes many views and ideas:   

Building Block Two: OPENING UP  to more – unconditional collaboration:

John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”  To this I say, Dennis Schug, you are a leader to admire because you began a conversation around the importance of collaborative work. As you said, “In 2016  isolation is a choice.”  Our students will inherit a world that depends on pragmatic problem solving and we can all lead by example. Let’s look for opportunities to learn together:

Building Block Three: OPENING UP  to vitality – professional learning in action:

Great leaders are like beacons who light the way and begin a chain reaction for professional learning and growth. We selected lighthouses as the images for our administrative series because great leader like Dennis Schrug are sources of enlightenment. They take away the darkness and bring clarity where there might otherwise be confusion. They achieve this through supporting professional learning.  This is the spark that lights the fire  inside all of us to learn and grow.  We can all be learners. We can all be leaders. We can become beacons who light the way for ourselves, each other, our students, and their families:

How can we work together for what is in the best interest of our students? We begin by saying “Yes.”  Yes to what is possible if we open ourselves up to communication.  Yes to more if we open ourselves up to collaboration.  Yes to vitality if we open ourselves up to professional learning.  Dennis you made us think of our collective potential and have inspired us all to dream. You have stirred our excitement for a new school year. Thank you for hosting #G2Great and for your service in the name of students everywhere.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 1.39.43 PM

 

 

Teachers Doing the Work: Thoughtful Planning For Intentional Read-Aloud

Jenn Hayhurst

Burkins & Yaris Quote for blog post

How can we use read-aloud as a springboard to reading, writing and thinking? This was the question that sparked the first of a #G2Great four part series: Teaching With Intention Maximizing Our Instructional Power Potential. Our chat on April 21, 2016 has come and gone but I am left feeling refreshed and renewed as I begin this post. Even though educators came to this conversation from different points in their careers, everyone learns from each other. What does this plurality of thinking offer us? Clarity.  It is that clarity and our ability to respond to our own questions about read-aloud that help us to maximize our professional potential.  

Q1 How can we more intentionally frame read-aloud to increase student engagement in ways that maximize our instructional POWER POTENTIAL?

Takeaways: Real engagement is not show and tell, it is experience and learn:

  1. Read-aloud energizes engagement through student interests
  2. We elevate our students’ status and create relevant experiences
  3. We move away from compliance towards ownership
  4. We create readers who love to read

Q2 What do you look for when using read-aloud as a flexible instructional springboard?

Takeaways: Stories and ideas flood students thinking through read aloud:

  1. This creates an intellectual and social context for learners
  2. Reading aloud opens pathways for communication, to promote deeper understanding
  3. Making room for students to talk, draw, or write is a scaffold to express abstract thinking in tangible ways

Q3 Read-aloud is a powerful framework to build language & vocabulary. What can we do to intentionally enhance those goals?

Takeaways: It is our own questions that help us to grow:  

  1. Begin by starting with texts that you love, then find out what your students love. How do we use this fertile ground to grow relationships?
  2. Instructional planning is organized around meaning making. How do my students learn best so they can access this text?  
  3. Whenever we stop the flow of the story be mindful of the enjoyment factor. How do I use the structure of different genres to select my stopping points and demystify the author’s craft?
  4. Build vocabulary lessons from context to allow students to practice and transfer. How can I use the classroom environment to promote transfer for all students?   

Q4 Peer collaboration and sharing is a crucial aspect of read-aloud. What is your favorite approach to bring readers and books together?

Takeaways: Read-aloud is an experience that we can use to structure meaningful collaboration:  

  1. See students for who they are and let their interests drive them
  2. Plan in options for collaborative learning
  3. Use  kidwatching to gather formative data

Q5 How can we integrate writing so the writing will elevate the academic AND emotional experience of the read-aloud?

Takeaways: When I put these tweets together it’s pure instructional magic:

  1. Reading multiple versions of a story reveals the author’s craft so students can attempt to transfer learning to their own writing
  2. Considering what a student decides to write about reveals their perspective to us while promoting engagement

Q6 Varied flexible reflection options after read-aloud allow us to create a more personalized experience. What options do you offer?

Takeaways: Read-aloud and reflection work hand-in-hand:

  1. Give students options to make a choice for how to reflect: written, partners, groups
  2. Don’t let this dynamic learning end in elementary school.  Middle schoolers need instructional techniques like turn and talk to engage their reflections too

Q7 Based on #G2Great chat tonight, what is one instructional shift you will make so that your read-aloud is more intentional?

Takeaways: Teachers are willing to modify their practices based on their own learning. Professional collaboration allows us to fine tune our practices:

As I reflect on our #G2Great chat on read-aloud I am reminded how important it is to collect students’ thinking through: anecdotal note taking, reader’s notebooks, post-its, and exit slips. I use each of these things to look for patterns in their thinking. This is live data that can help me to differentiate and drive comprehension instruction with even greater intention. My collaboration with Jill DeRosa  a third grade teacher in my building, elevates my thinking around keeping the child at the center of all we do, by asking the question: “Where is the child in all of this?” We responded to this questions in two recent posts, Unlocking Each Other’s Potential and You Can’t Do This Work By Yourself

Each Thursday night #G2Great teachers from all over the world come together to do the work that we need to do to become more skilled at our craft.  To think about ways that will help our students thrive and grow.  Thank you for helping me to think deeper and longer so that I can continue to grow my practice. As each of us grow together, it is our students who reap the benefits of our collective learning.  

Learning in the Company of Others

By, Jenn Hayhurst  

Soaring

On January 7, 2016 #G2Great took a look at the past and future when ur topic was: Looking Back So We Can Look Ahead

My hope is that more educators will make the choice to become connected in 2016.  Whenever I bring up Twitter to my colleagues who are not connected they inevitably say, “I just can’t get the hang of it.” or “I tried it but it I don’t know what I’m doing.” and the favorite “How will it help me as a teacher?” I get it.  Twitter moves quickly and it can be hard to figure out what it is, and what it really offers us.  However, Twitter’s impact on me has been profound, it has shaped 2015 into a year of daily reflection.

I’m far from perfect.  Many times I try to do something new and I fail, and then I fail again. But failure doesn’t define me because I am a learner. Now that I have Twitter in my life I can share my experiences and learn from others who embrace failure for the sake of learning. They understand that through failure we explore a better future for the students.  If we stray from students we are going in the wrong direction.  This has to be my take away reflection of 2015.

It’s been a year since we began the #G2Great chat and now more than ever I am feeling the impact of having a Professional Learning Network (PLN).  Twitter allows me to share my thinking in the company of others and for others to share theirs with me. Thinking through this plurality sharpens my lens as to the kind of teacher I have been, and the kind of teacher I aspire to become.  The teachers who join in the chat each week bring perspectives that are shaped by experiences and shared values.  They are what connected educators call my “dream faculty.”   These are people who I admire.  I wonder what would it be like to actually work in such a district, although now that I have taken Twitter to a new level it feels as though they are always with me.  Their advice and passion lingers long after the chat ends.

My Thinking After Twitter - What Matters Most (1)