Recently, Krista and I attended a conference where we were privileged to spend the day with Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle. My fingers could not type fast enough as I tried to record all of the inspiring quotes, engaging strategies, and ideas that were shared. My head was spinning with all the possibilities for engaging students, collaborating across districts and increasing the volume of reading.
We were fortunate to have a large group attend from our districts; administrators, middle and high school teachers, and literacy specialists. When the day was complete a middle school ELA teacher turned to me and said, “That is just the shot in the arm that I needed.” After chatting with her further I realized that this opportunity had inspired her and would definitely influence her teaching. This made me reflect on my own professional learning. I started to collect my thoughts on all of the professional learning that had impacted my literacy coaching for just the past week and the variety of sources that supported that learning from podcasts to professional texts.
The conference Everyday Practices that Engage and Empower Readers and Writers with Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher not only impacted my own learning it opened the door for conversations with colleagues in middle and high school. After the inspiring conference, we have begun to collaborate on a book tasting event for seventh-grade students. Students will have an opportunity to choose a book for their first book club. This idea of student choice is sure to encourage engagement with students.
Another way I added to my learning this week is through listening to podcasts. Often on my 45-minute ride to and from work each day I listen to a variety of podcasts. Sometimes to inspire my personal life but often to strengthen my professional life. Tops on my list for professional podcasts is Cult of Pedagogy by Jennifer Gonzalez. In the most recent podcast, Jennifer interviewed Mark Wise as he shared his expertise entitled, Rubric Repair: 5 Changes to Get Results. This podcast came at an opportune time as I had just had a conversation with a first grade Instructional Teacher Leader regarding updating the grade level writing rubrics. The current rubrics were created with teachers five years ago when classrooms were beginning to implement a new writing program and the grade level team wanted to revisit them. Mark’s advice on clarifying the language of the rubrics through “Can Do” statements helped us to adjust the current rubrics so that may be used not only by teachers but may be used as a tool for students to self assess.
It is hard for me to believe that just a few years ago I would not have dreamed that these social networking sites would become a place that I would visit daily for connecting with colleagues and my “heroes” in the education world. Twitter and Facebook are my go to social media for professional learning. One of my favorite Twitter chats is #g2great. This week Reading to Make a Difference, by Lester Laminack and Katie Kelly was the focus of the chat. The authors were interviewed and shared the value of incorporating books in classroom libraries that are mirrors, windows, and doors. They shared the importance of selecting texts that can also lead to not only sharing an opportunity to enter into perhaps a new world but also to perhaps take action based on what they have learned. I have already placed this book into my cart. I can’t wait to learn more.
Daily I use an app called Bloglovin so I might catch up on the professional blogs that I am following. This week as I reading a post from Paula Bourque at LitCoachLady I discovered a Padlet she had created. It included a variety of book trailers used for inspiring “Quick Writes.” I thought what an engaging way to inspire middle school writers. I shared this idea with classroom teachers and they implemented it right away and then decided to have students create some of their own with books from their independent reading.
I could write pages on this section but will focus on one text that I came coming back to again and again this school year, Being the Change Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension, by Sara K. Ahmed. This has been a powerful text that our middle school teachers and students have been exploring. This week as we are beginning book clubs I thought it was important to explore the importance of active listening. Krista reminded me that Sara had included a whole section in her text. The structures, tools, and ideas for modeling, spotting and naming were laid out in the book. I started planning out what this might look like in our middle school classrooms. Thinking about the skills that would need to modeled; body language, stems for agreeing and disagreeing respectfully.
When I first started in education the only opportunity to expand my professional learning was through texts that I explored on my own. After a few years, I moved to a new district which allowed each teacher funding to attend one local workshop of their choice to continue their learning. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from other professionals and looked for possibilities in my mailbox of local conferences. Now the possibilities are countless without ever leaving home. From online chats to connecting with published authors through a variety of social media to blogs, the possibilities are endless. What is your favorite way to increase your professional learning?