I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today, and it's always good to read what everyone shares. Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.
First, I want to compliment Kathleen and Tara for their recent wonderful posts about teachers writing, for themselves and with their students, then the push to get the word out via Voxer and other social media, etc. You can find the posts here and here.
Because I'm retired, it doesn't seem as if I could do much, but I will at least share what I've done with students in the past in future posts. I've always written with my students, thought we were all in it together, and that's what one did. I was thrilled to read and then later listen to Donald Graves, Nanci Atwell and Lucy Calkins, of course others later. It is a pleasure to be part of a group that cheers for things like this. It's a pleasure to write!
Last week, I attended a workshop via the Alternative Licensing Program for which I'm working. This program places the interns enrolled in the program in various schools, and I am working with the teacher as support, and his assistant (the intern) to oversee the intern's progress, help him learn and grow strong as a teacher so that he can be ready for his own classroom.
This workshop's focus was learning together through observations. The part that interested me is something I know now as an experienced teacher, but I really don't remember if I knew it as a beginner. As you teach, do you give yourself feedback as you move through a lesson? I've talked about "self-talk" as the teaching happens, and I think it's similar to what we discussed. We were asked to imagine coaching the interns as collaborators, moving their thinking into imagining themselves in the lesson. We will videotape later in the year, but now it's up to memory, and my notes. Asking the intern to, for example, imagine the lesson's opening. What happened that worked well? What did not? How could it change?
In this particular talk, we were asked to work with someone at our table to collaborate with a prepared chart of blank boxes. The top word as you will see is "feedback", then we were to fill in the next boxes with one word we first thought of, then switch sides and add two words that came to mind with the partner's word. Then switch again, and add a word that meant the two together. Finally, together, place a word that was the culmination of all our ideas from the top down, Feedback. And then write the statement.
Do you see how filling out the chart together will begin a discussion of what "feedback" means? Then, the questioning can begin, and include questions like "If feedback means "change", how do you see that applied in your lesson planning, your thinking about what you're doing in your teaching, etc.? Of course, the first step will be to complete the grid together, and follow with a good conversation.
I imagine this as a beginning, with both of us, or those I collaborate with in the future, choosing our own starting words, and filling out the chart with additional ones that will guide our conversations. Do you see this as useful for use with colleagues, or with a mentee you may be working with? I'll follow up in a few weeks to share what happens.