So what does the NYC skyline mean to me?
It’s home to the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. And for two weeks each of the last three summers, it has been home to incredible learning documented on this blog. Learning that has stretched me as a literate being, a reader and writer who learns alongside teachers and students. Yesterday was a beautiful learning day as it was my third Saturday Reunion at TCRWP. A day where attendees could hear Andrew Solomon, Lucy Calkins, Stephanie Harvey, Jennifer Serravallo, Carl Anderson, Kathy Collins, Kathleen Tolan, Colleen Cruz, Amanda Hartman, and a whole host of other amazing TC Staff Developers. ( Your assignment: As you read this post, think about what you believe I value based on what I share in this post.)
A day of learning.
A day of choices (pages and pages in the printed trail guide and/or scrolling for hours in the new app).
A gift of a day.
But this gift was not without a price.
If Lucy Calkins’ closing keynote did not move you to action, please keep reading. You missed the point!
Why are we here?
In Lucy’s own words, “We come here to feel less weird.”
We came to be a part of the tradition and the rituals of a process of continually learning. We are a community of learners who have gold membership. We are the traditions and habits of our lives. Sometimes we stand out in our own schools and communities because we are not seen as conformists, we always want more for our students, or we really don’t want to be told by a textbook how to teach, so we quietly (sometimes) do our own little teaching in our own little corner away from the prying eyes of other less supportive communities.
But that’s not enough!
Spring is the time of new beginnings. Lucy shared some characteristics of leaders: dominance, steadiness, influence, and compliance. We need to think about how we build leaders in our classrooms because leading only for the sake of compliance seems short-sighted at best.
What are the goals of our classrooms?
We want our students to be joyfully literate might be one answer.
So that means the teacher would set up the classroom so that students would have choices in their daily reading and writing work that would allow them to strengthen their own skills and knowledge as well as their own love of reading. Simply stated. Not so simply created. This relies heavily on a deep understanding of the values, traditions, rituals and habits that are going to be the load-bearing walls of the classroom and sustain everyone in times of trouble. Everyone’s learning curve will be off the charts.
Teachers College Reading and Writing Project staff model this belief when 80 of them study together every Thursday and commit themselves to teaching and using that learning. What a supportive community!
“No, we can’t come to your school on Thursday.”
“No, we can’t schedule on top of Thursday learning.”
Totally music to my ears. Learning and growing together as a community to move forward. Choice matters. We need to create these communities of respectful learning. Some of us will seek out friends from across the country to continue to study and learn with, but we the adults, MUST do the work that we are asking students to do.
Literacy instruction is not about telling someone else HOW to do it. It’s about the demonstrations and modeling that are steeped in the values, traditions and rituals of the classroom that support growth for all learners. It’s hard to demonstrate when you’ve not done the work yourself. You can’t anticipate the troubles. You can’t anticipate the successes. Your toolbox is empty if you haven’t done the work yourself.
Where can you start?
You can begin a habit of writing! Lucy shared with us that the action of writing about our experience helps us live a more wide-awake life! We pay more attention to what is going on around us! Make it a habit – and research says that five times of “doing” followed by “writing” can make it a habit.
Where will I start?
Another fact shared by Lucy was that the average person gets two minutes per year of positive feedback. I’m gong to make it a habit, by the end of this year, to make sure that I give positive valuable feedback! I’m long on the “will to get started” and short on the details, but I will have travel time to think about “how to implement.” I want to build that tradition or habit of being someone who provides positive feedback! (Currently, I’m not likely to say “That’s really pathetic” ALL the time; but I’m also not always as wide awake about small approximations as I should be.)
Why does this matter?
Habits constitute 40% of our lives on a daily basis. I want 40% of my life to be devoted to more positive and joyful actions! I want to help build MORE leaders! Our world is in dire need of great and empathetic leaders.
Are you a leader?
How do you lead?
“What tradition will you build in your classroom?”
With fellow “Slicers” yesterday, I discussed beginning two different posts and seeing how they went. My first actions were to scan all 19 pages of my notes – making sure that the titles for each session were firmly embedded (then goodbye paper copy) and then I just thought about over all themes for the day. I clearly heard that “we have to do the work” all day long in every session. Then I decided that my first work would be retelling the story of Lucy’s closing keynote in many of her words and some of mine. Friends – 5 more sessions to talk about YET to come!)
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!