Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Affording Ourselves Professional Grace & Space In Challenging Times

This post is dedicated to all the losers out there. Those of us who listen to interior voices that whisper,

“not good enough”

by Jenn Hayhurst

August 11, 2022 was my  #G2Great homecoming marking return after an extended absence from Twitter. Mary, who is extremely kind and wise, suggested that I write this blog post since our topic was: Affording Ourselves Professional Grace & Space In Challenging Times. Maybe it was fate, a topic that was heavy on my mind, as schools reopen across the country happened to be the one that would welcome my return to #G2Great. Seneca once said, “Fate leads the willing and drags along the unwilling.” If this is true, then call me a happy follower.

During my time away from social media, I learned three important lessons that I have to share with others who find themselves in need of both “grace” and “space”  during these challenging times:

#1 Value Friendships

This may seem like an obvious one, but when you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s easy to take even your closest friends for granted. Another thing to consider; sometimes, when we are stressed, we surround ourselves with “friends” who may not be the best choices. So take stock in your friendships by asking: “What support are my friends giving me? How are they helping?” And then, “Am I being a good friend in return?”

I put out a call inviting friends prior to the chat. I wanted to touch base with my friends who spread positivity and brilliance:

It is my happiness to share and promote all the good work these remarkable humans are contributing to the world right now:

Click here to read @NadineRuzzier’s blog
Click here to read @carolynhelmers Stenhouse Blog post

@juliewright4444’s beautiful new @BenchmarkEdu book

#2 Be Present

When times get rough, it is so easy to start chasing worrisome thoughts.  Then, inevitably, a myriad of distractions set in causing us to lose focus. Aimlessly scrolling online looking for solutions for what to teach tomorrow. When really, the answers we seek are being revealed to us every day by the children we teach.

Whatever, you are doing: teaching a lesson, serving in a committee, or joining a Twitter Chat, be present:

@dubioseducator is a master for showing us how to be more fully present.. read her post, When Slow and Steady Comes into Play
Check our this review on Good Reads. Did you know you can rent audio books from your public library? Check out Libby

This one goes out to our newest teachers, if you are feeling “off balance” during instruction, leaning in means you are learning something. Keep going, reflect and focus on what is happening in the present:

#3  Take Action

So long as we live, there is always a choice. Our actions matter, and either contribute towards positivity or negativity. Sometimes it is a kind gesture:

Sometimes it working towards a vital cause:

During challenging times, do something to contribute towards the “good” because every action matters. Leave a generous invitation to everyone you work with that you are there to help, leave every door open:

In the end, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about how we decide to play this game of life. It’s not a spin of a dial, it’s the actions we take, once we consider our options. What example will you set? We are what we do, and what do we think. Really, there is only you and what you believe. What will you decide to let in this school year?  This school year, I am opening the door to: being thoughtful about my friends; making a practice of being present by honing my ability to focus; and taking actions that lead towards positive solutions.  Let’s get to work, and have a wonderful school year. Never forget you were always enough.

Weeding Misguided and Harmful Practices: Behavior Management (Second in the Series)

By Jenn Hayhurst

Click Here for WakeLet

I love a good series. To me, a series of Twitter chats is sort of like binge-watching a favorite Netflix show… I just can’t get enough! Our latest series, Weeding Harmful and Misguided Practices doesn’t disappoint. It is so relevant and meaningful because it suggests there is always room to grow. This is especially true when it comes to behavior management, it is critical to try to get it right. What better way to do this than to have a good conversation with smart and dedicated teachers? On February 6, 2020, #G2Great held the second of a five-part series on Weeding Misguided and Harmful Practices Behavior Management.

Do No Harm…

We teach because we hope to make a positive impact on our students’ lives. What is better than making meaningful contributions toward students’ social and academic growth? However, relationships come first and shame is a barrier to forming relationships. Instead of viewing behavior as something to manage, view it as formative data. What does this student need? Showing students that we have their interests at heart is the better way. A strong teacher-student relationship is formed by inter-personal connetions and not charts and clips.

Clear Responsibility…

As I read over these tweets I find myself nodding and smiling. We are teaching children how to live and be in the world. When we take a moment to pause and manage ourselves when life in the classroom gets stressful we are modeling how to deal with complex emotions like stress, anxiety, confusion or even disappointment. What better way to teach students how to better manage their feelings and actions? As we do this work together, teachers and students, we are co-creating safe learning environments and that is what we really want for our kids, isn’t it? We can be the teachers they can depend on. The teachers who lead with empathy and compassion. Yes, this is what behavior management can look like.

Let’s keep a good thing going. We hope you will join us next week

Exploring Seven Big Ideas to Maximize School Wide Potential Administrator Spotlight on Matt Renwick

By Jenn Hayhurst


Everyone Needs A Champion…

Sometimes a word can be a perfect fit. When I think of the word “inspire” and I think about the many talented administrators I have come to know, it’s really captures the essence of what makes them great . Dedicated administrators fulfill both definitions of the word. They do fill us with a feeling of elation to create great work in the name of students. They navigate the political tensions of running a school and do in fact, help us to breathe in and stay focused. They are brave and do whatever it takes so that we all keep students at the center of all the decision making.They are real life champions working for the greater good each day a school opens its doors.

InspireOn August 11, 2016 #G2Great welcomed Matt Renwick to guest host Part 2 of a five Part Series: Exploring Seven Big Ideas to Maximize School Wide Potential. Matt Renwick is a champion, who inspires us all.   

Great Teachers, Growth, Learning…

Matt’s top three instructional building blocks to promote positive school environment are a belief in: great teachers, growth, and celebrating learning for all students. Clarity is essential so when we all understand what our building blocks for school culture are, we can all work together to make them a reality. We are part of something bigger than ourselves, because we are all champions for the same cause:

Empower, Success, Collaboration…

Creating a school environment that promotes empowered relationships is purposeful and disciplined work for a school leader. Knowing when it’s right to step into a leadership role and and when to step out of a leadership role honors collaborative work.  It shifts personal responsibility for our professional learning and each other when we embrace the thinking that we are all leaders. We are a championship team who are all working to win students’ success:

Conversation, Consensus, Team…

We merge leadership and instructional decision-making when we merge our beliefs. Our work is to encourage meaningful conversations, to find consensus, and to create a responsive team. Every championship team has a great coach, great leaders are part of the team so they seek out experts who will coach them achieve victory. Leaders listen:  

Time, Facilitate, Building-Wide…

Our best work for students comes to life when administrators think like champions. They inspire a collaborative spirit as if we were stepping into the area for a playoff game. They come to work to play hard and try new roles designed to coordinate our efforts. We are all leaders, we are all learners and this makes our schools great:

Welcoming, Being Present, Making Experiences …

We can’t stand on the sidelines. We must get out there and make connections of all kinds. By connecting our schools and communities we affect changes. Leaving a positive footprint begins when we all step into our leadership roles and leave tracks for others to follow:  

Assess, Focus, Choice …

Be a champion for a school culture that values professional learning – one that deeply identifies itself with success. Assessing and planning for this are essential parts that drive intentional decision making that accommodates teacher choice for professional learning.  This is how we grow teacher leaders.  When everyone immerses themselves in this process we embed learning throughout:   

Professionalism, Say Yes, Success …

Having a personal vision statement allows us to envision the school our educators and students deserve. Being a champion means saying “yes” to the work ahead and finding support that brings success:  

We are all champions! We can choose to be a source of inspiration that keeps the lights on in schoolhouses across our nation. If you are an administrator, like Matt Renwick, you can lead like a learner. If you are a teacher, you can be a collaborative colleague keeping students first. We can all be brave and know when to ask for help, holding tight to the belief that we are smarter together. If you are a parent, be involved and support your local schools. This is the work of a lifetime and we need everyone to be part of the team.

Thank you for inspiring us Matt. You’ve brought out our inner champions:

Opening Quote

Holding Tight to the Practices That Matter: Spotlight on Conferring

Guest Blog Post by JoAnne Duncan @joanneduncanjo

On 2/18/16 #G2Great spotlighted Conferring

Am I excellent at yoga? No. Am I excellent at conferring? Not yet. But every time I confer with a child I feel the magic.

Conferring is a practice that transforms the complexities of teaching and learning into a joyful, magical experience. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about conferring and wondering what makes it so magical. As I reflect on this question, I find three common areas that make conferring a practice we need to hold tight. Conferring is about building relationships, trust, and responsive differentiated instruction.


Conferring creates opportunities to build strong, caring relationships.  A simple yet powerful first step in conferring is to slow down, sit alongside a child, look into their eyes with a warm smile and ask, “How’s it going with your reading today?” In five short minutes we can learn so much about each of our students. This sends a message that we really care about them. When we make ourselves present in the moment by listening, observing and admiring, we come to a deeper appreciation of how unique each child truly is. That is magical.


Conferring provides opportunities for students to trust our coaching and intentions. As they  trust us, they begin to trust their own thinking and develop skills and strategies to become independent, joyful, proficient readers. Conferring also provides us with an opportunity to begin to trust our own abilities to notice, compliment, wonder and provide just right feedback to move the reader forward. It isn’t about trusting a program or a script but trusting ourselves, the reader and the process. That is magical.

Responsive Differentiated Instruction

Conferring is student-centered, differentiated instruction at its best.  Conferring begins with a student centered mindset. We meet that student, at that moment, exactly where they are. We notice, listen, celebrate, and guide them with next steps. Each student gets what they need. Dylan’s tweet reminds us that conferring, zooming in and focusing can be like taking beautiful snapshots of our readers. That is magical.

2) Dylan

Hold tight to conferring. Make it a daily priority. Fran Mcveigh reminds us that conferring is where the magic happens. Some of us may not be excellent at conferring…yet. But when we slow down, build relationships, trust, and provide responsive differentiated instruction, this is where the magic happens. When we are conferring we are connecting. Whether we are conferring with readers, writers, colleagues, or friends, we are all side by side, learning, growing, talking, listening, and planning.
…And that is magical.

4) Fran

Teachers celebrating the magic of conferring