Tag Archives: penny kittle

5 Lessons from Public Teaching

51A2WRYQAZL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThis week I tackled a title that’s long been on my to-read list:  Public Teaching: One Kid at a Time by Penny Kittle.  Published in 2003, it’s Penny’s first book, and has a foreword by Don Graves and an afterword by Don Murray.

(Yeesh…no pressure for when the rest of us thinking about writing our first books, right?!)

I loved this book, a collection of short essays plus an interview with Penny at the end.  It was readable, honest, and spectacularly well-written, as everything by Penny is.  I smiled as I read every page–except for the pages where I was crying.  Even in those essays I found myself impressed by the cleverness of Penny’s craft, both in her teaching and writing.

I bookmarked lots of pages and quotes to share with my preservice teachers this fall, but here are five lessons I took away from the reading that I believe are relevant to teachers of all content areas.

 

No one is perfect.

Penny begins her book with several amusing essays on mishaps from murderous crickets to accidentally-transparent skirts.  She eases us into the notion that even she, the great Penny Kittle, has had some missteps in her career, then launches into a few gut-wrenching essays on what she reflects on as her more weighty teaching failures:  a student we never say the right thing to, one we lose patience with, one we never teach to love learning or reading or writing.

We all have memories of those students, and Penny honors this with her writing.  I loved these vulnerable, humble essays that remind me we all ride a rollercoaster of success when it comes to our teaching.

Classroom management is a myth.

Penny tells the story of a novice teacher, struggling to manage her classroom, making wrong turn after wrong turn as a battle with her students escalates.  She has this to offer:

“Classroom management is really about the management of the heart and soul of your students.  The only ‘technique’ that works is a full-hearted human response to their lives, and to the conditions of school.  In some schools students sit in rows and listen, then rush to their next class, to sit and listen even more.  Try to understand the conditions in your particular school and view the entire day through their eyes. … You aren’t bad.  Your students are children, preoccupied with myriad distractions.  It is a natural state.  School is often the unnatural one.”

This advice was so much better, for me, than the age-old wisdom I got from mentors when I first began teaching and a lesson would crash and burn:  “don’t take it personally.”  I did take it personally, and still do, when I lose a class’s attention or a lesson falls flat.  When I learned the lesson Penny teaches here–“You must teach the students, not the content.  I want every student in my class to know that he or she is more important than what I am teaching”–I had far fewer of those flat moments and many more roundly satisfying ones.

Novice teachers need mentors, not critics.

We’ve all heard the statistics that half our teachers will leave the profession within three years.  As Penny says, “teaching, like marriage, is best when you make it past the courtship.”  The first few years are hard, and what makes them easier is exactly what improves my marriage:  talk.  As a young teacher simultaneously full of ambition and anxiety, I became more even-keeled when I found mentors.  I talked with them, they empathized, they advised.  I felt more prepared for my work, but I also felt less alone when I found a group of peers to encourage and support me.  “We have to mentor new teachers, listen to them, and I guess, hold hands once in a while,” Penny remarks.

Less is more.

“Somehow we decided that four short stories is better than one rewritten four times, and it’s a huge mistake.”

Penny’s assertion about the way many teachers conceive of writing is so true to my own learning experience, and as a result, my own early teaching experience.  I’ve been interested in the idea of simplifying my instruction for a while, and of course, Penny helped me see more clearly how to do it–with revision.

“I needed to have them linger longer over less,” she says, then backs it up with stories about an entire day’s work spent on fragments, the slow process of discovery learning, the work and power of weeks of revision on one genre of writing.  We have to jettison some things if we really want students learning, to keep it simple, to remember that less is more.

Teachers need to write.

By joining a writer’s group of teachers at her school, writing an essay for the local paper with her students, and carving out the time from motherhood to write, Penny learned to be a much better teacher by writing.  Her peer and student readers, as well as her editors, taught her to “be positive.  Encouragement works; criticism hurts.  Be careful with words.”

It’s hard to learn this lesson if you’re not a writer yourself, and Penny shows us her journey to becoming one throughout her essays.  She describes the early days of her writing group this way:

“Their criticism stung.  I didn’t like it.  You have to be careful when you’re correcting someone’s work.  I don’t think I was careful enough with my students all those years before.  It was so easy to just tell them what wasn’t working and think that was helping.  In writers’ group I learned quickly that compliments showed me what I could do and gave me confidence, criticism confirmed my fears and left me frustrated.  When I confidently approached a piece to revise it, I was playful.  When I went back to one in frustration, I usually made it worse.”

We become better teachers when we do what we’re asking our students to do–it’s only then that we can really know what we’re asking of them.  I highly recommend reading Public Teaching, doing some writing (how about with us?), and reflecting on your teaching by doing both.

43ccacd3aa51c2341980e1e34e34cba6.jpgAs we near the end of the school year, I hope you can find truth in one of Penny’s final statements:  “In my experience, it isn’t the stress that’s left the greatest mark, it is the joy.”

Shana Karnes teaches sophomore, junior, and senior preservice teachers at West Virginia University.  She finds joy in all things learning, love, and literature as she teaches, mothers, and sings her way through life.  Follow Shana on Twitter at @litreader.

Try It Tuesday: Red Thread Notebooks

img_3173-1So much of a workshop philosophy centers on the assumption that reading and writing are forever intertwined.  Vocabulary, grammar, poetry–they’re all pieces of the puzzle that make up literacy and a passion for words, too.  It was with this in mind that I created Red Thread Notebooks.

The idea came from two places–one was Penny Kittle’s “big idea books” (found on page 8-9 of those handouts), which are reading response notebooks  centered around themes in literature.  The other was Tom Romano‘s “red thread” assignment, in which teachers had to write about which parts of our teaching philosophy would run through all of our teaching, like a red thread.

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This student booktalks The Selection in the “STRUGGLE” notebook.

So, when composition notebooks are just a nickel in the summer, I buy 60 of them each year.  My students and I begin the year by brainstorming themes and topics that are important to us–love, cell phones, faith, music, family, video games, death, high school, forgiveness, four wheelers.  We label our notebooks and use them all year long.

There are a variety of ways I invite students to write in these notebooks:

  • Vocabulary practice: list related words, synonyms, word associations, etc. similar to the notebook title
  • Skill practice: write dialogue, revise sentence structure, practice figurative language, craft descriptive writing, about the notebook’s title
  • Book talks: write about how the book you’re currently reading might add to a conversation about the notebook’s title
  • Grammar instruction: revise a sentence, imitate a paragraph, tinker with style, while writing about the notebook title
  • Free writing: write your thoughts and musings on the notebook title
  • Poetry: find an existing poem, craft your own poem, or create a found poem about the notebook’s title
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Hailey and Ryan practice dialogue in the “VIDEO GAMES” notebook after I teach a mini-lesson on its conventions.

Because these are shared notebooks, I ask students to refrain from using profanity in them or writing about any of their peers.  I don’t require names, but many students like to sign their writing.  Those are the only rules.

Once the notebooks have begun to fill up, students can refer to them to find book recommendations, writing topic ideas, or vocabulary words to add to their personal dictionaries.  They can also look for examples of skills practice, craft studies, or grammar lessons that we’ve done for additional guidance.  One year students even selected multigenre topics based on our red thread notebooks.

These notebooks are a lovely way to make permanent a yearlong conversation about literacy.  The topics change every year–Michael Jackson had his own notebook my first year of teaching, and this year Lebron James had one–but the opportunities to write, reflect, and make connections remain the same.

Do you think you’ll try Red Thread Notebooks next year?  Do you do something similar?  Please share in the comments!

10 Pedagogical Must-Reads for Workshop Teachers

IMG_0650I met with my new student teacher a few weeks ago, and he asked me to borrow any books that might help him get going on the readers-writers workshop–the “theory” version of Jackie’s starter kit.  He’s been in my classroom before, so he knows the general routine and character of our work, but he wanted to know the ins and outs of how I thought and planned and conceptualized the whole thing.

I sat at my desk and looked at all of the titles I had on hand, remembering how influential reading them for the first time had been.  As a result, it was hard not to just dump my entire professional bookshelf onto a cart for him, but I managed to pick out a few titles that have guided me most adeptly in one aspect or another of my current classroom practice.

  1. Book Love by Penny Kittle – This was the book that helped to solidify my vision of an ideal classroom.  Before I read it, I had already been doing many of the best practices Penny mentions–writer’s notebooks, choice reading, personalized writing.  But I didn’t know how to bring it all together until Book Love.  As such, this is my #1 recommendation for any teacher looking to jump-start their individualized workshop curriculum.
  2. Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle – This book introduced me to the concepts of mentor texts, reading like a writer, and best draft/publication of writing.  I learned about quickwrites, constant revision, writing conferences, and a great deal more of what are now standard routines in my classroom.  This is the book for anyone curious about the big picture of writing instruction.
  3. Finding the Heart of Nonfiction by Georgia Heard – I was raised in the tradition of literature as containing mostly fiction and poetry, but Penny’s books helped me see the great value of nonfiction.  I wanted to know how to integrate it well into my thematic units, and this book helped me do that.  Georgia’s book is full of wisdom about finding the soul of good nonfiction writing and matching it to your students’ needs.
  4. Choice Words by Peter Johnston – This book taught me how to talk to students.  It is my #1 recommendation for anyone looking to address those pesky Speaking and Listening standards in the Common Core–this book teaches you about the delicate, volatile power of a few choice words between you and your students.  I re-read it every year, and it might be the most important book in this stack.
  5. Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones by Tom Newkirk – This book is subtitled “Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For,” and Tom Newkirk certainly made me want to engage some of my former teachers in fisticuffs when I finished it.  This text is full of common-sense brilliance that will transform the way you think about why we teach reading and what kinds of texts we teach.
  6. Boy Writers by Ralph Fletcher – Why do my students keep writing about violent gun battles?  Why do they always ask if they can swear in their writing?  What’s up with the complete unwillingness of my boys to be vulnerable?  If you’ve asked yourself these questions…this book is for you.  Ralph writes about everything you ever wondered about boy writers and how to move them forward in their writing.
  7. Readicide by Kelly Gallagher – Schools have been killing reading for many years, Kelly argues, and then presents ways you can stop the slaughter.  He fires away at pop quizzes, assigned chapters, multiple-choice tests, and all the practices that steer our students toward SparkNotes.  Then he reveals ways to get students authentically engaging in literature in a way that doesn’t kill their love of reading.
  8. Falling in Love with Close Reading by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts – After finishing Readicide and wanting to abandon the eight or so whole-class novels I once felt chained to, I wasn’t sure how to teach close reading skills.  This book answered that question for me, and more.  Chris and Kate reveal how to use poems, articles, short stories, and selections from novels to get kids interacting with the beauty and power of language in all kinds of texts.
  9. Reading Ladders by Teri Lesesne – When all of your students have finally found a book they will actually read–then what?  Teri Lesesne taught me how to help students climb a reading ladder of text complexity with this book.  It’s a tough battle to get all kids reading, but it’s even tougher to get them to all challenge themselves once they are.  Reading ladders are the solution to the increasing complexity question–now they’re a consistent part of my instruction.
  10. Revision Decisions by Jeff Anderson and Deborah Dean – After reading the first nine books on this list, I still wasn’t sure where grammar instruction fit in.  I knew to have students read like writers and learn from language and sentence structures that way, but I wasn’t sure how to structure my mini-lessons, until I read this book.  Jeff and Deborah helped me find strong craft study lessons and bring them into the classroom in a way that appealed to students and also benefited them immediately in their writing.

This is by no means an exhaustive list–That Workshop Book by Stephanie Harvey, Read Write Teach by Linda Rief, The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, and many other integral titles were simply not on my shelf when I gave this stack to Mike.  But these top ten are ones I wouldn’t be the same teacher without.

What other titles are essential to your practice?  Please share in the comments!

Update:  Here are must-read folks that readers have suggested via Twitter and Facebook, as well as in the comments:

  1. Lucy Calkins
  2. Nancie Atwell
  3. Linda Rief
  4. Katie Wood Ray
  5. Donalyn Miller
  6. Don Graves
  7. Donald Murray
  8. Peter Elbow
  9. Ariel Sacks
  10. James Moffett
  11. Louise Rosenblatt

5 Non-Negotiables When Designing Writing Instruction

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First draft of a unit plan in my notebook

I plan my units of instruction in three-week chunks, alternating between a reading-focused unit and a writing-focused unit.  In every unit, and in every class period, I keep some routines the same, much like Amy describes here.  While I do most of the big thinking about a unit up front, I do leave some holes in the plans to make space for mini-lessons that are responsive to what I discover students need during our conferences.  And every year, I design brand new units.

While each unit is unique, I was reminded while at the NCTE Annual Convention of five non-negotiables to keep in mind when designing writing instruction.

Writing should be low-stakes.  Students need to write a lot, and a lot of that writing should be ungraded, unread, or worth very few points.  I have felt liberated in terms of grading writing since I read Kelly Gallagher’s research-based statement that students should be reading and writing four times as much as a teacher could ever grade.

I think, since I embraced that philosophy, that my students also feel liberated.  Their notebooks are a “safe place for regular, ungraded practice,” as Penny Kittle described in her Ignite session.  While we write in our notebooks every day, and outside of class in one-pagers, I only collect notebooks every two weeks, and only carefully read and respond to one or two pieces my students have marked.  Indeed, 80% of the writing we do stays in our notebooks and never makes it to ‘published’ form.  This takes the pressure off writers to produce something perfect or error-free, because “our classrooms need to be a safe place to fail,” in the words of Taylor Mali.

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The first two weeks of Kelly Gallagher’s unit plan–week three is filled with revision and getting to best draft #3 at the ‘deep end’

Teaching writing is complex, layered, and nuanced.  In her session on revision, Georgia Heard shared the five things all students need in order to make authentic revision happen:  “opportunities for students to write, mini-lessons on craft and revision, choice in topics, mentor texts, one-on-one conferences with both teachers and students.”  Kelly Gallagher’s unit plan he walked us through adhered to those rules remarkably well.  “Assigning writing and teaching writing are two different things.  Grading writing and assessing writing are two different things,” he reminded us.  It is impossible for students to produce great writing if it is merely assigned.  Thus, when I plan a unit of writing instruction, I leave ample time for craft mini-lessons, modeling my own writing, and talk amongst students and myself.

When teachers are writers ourselves, and experience the process of topic choice, revision, and studying craft moves beside our students, we can become the most effective teachers of writing.  We have to walk the talk.  “Great, effective teachers must be informed AND inspired,” Kwame Alexander asserted.  To be a truly informed teacher of writing, a teacher must be a writer herself. I learned more about writing a strong narrative while participating in NaNoWriMo alongside my students than I ever did just trying to teach fiction before I wrote fiction.  I loved the experience six years ago during my first attempt, and I’ve continued to complete all assignments beside my students ever since.  When we write with our students, inspiration will spread through “the contagion of passion,” in Penny Kittle’s words.

Writing should be personal.  While I love to write about reading, and find it valuable for students to do so often, most of the writing in my classroom is personalized, choice-driven, and often remains private.  When we do a nonfiction writing unit, like the rhetorical analysis we’re in the midst of right now, our written products are focused on the students’ relationships to the texts they’re analyzing–in this case, the misleading rhetoric often found in American politics.  Mostly we write narratives, even in the midst of nonfiction, telling the stories of our connections to the topics we discuss in informative or argumentative genres.

“You can write yourself out of dark places. How much of the writing we do in school nurtures that?” Gary Anderson wondered in his session on reflection.  We have to honor the fact that students are not inherently motivated to write for their futures–for college, job applications, or resumes–but rather they are motivated to write for the here and now, and for themselves.  This is why choice is, and will remain, at the center of my writing instruction.

How do you design writing instruction?  Share your process in the comments!

How to Respond to All Writers–Students and Professionals Alike

In a workshop classroom, all authors are mentors.  They are teachers of the craft of writing, and the foundation of the workshop model is built on acknowledging and celebrating them as such.  All writers are apprentices of other writers–Stephen King notes this in On Writing, Katie Wood Ray points this out in Wondrous Words, and Penny Kittle champions this in Write Beside Them.

This week, we’ve practiced treating two types of writers as mentors in our classroom–published authors and student writers.

Once we set up our writer’s notebooks, we began filling them with all things personal to us.  Heart maps, important photos, our hands, lifelines, reading histories, and more.  Then, we turned to adding the words of other writers.

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My writing atop Jacqueline Woodson’s

I wanted to show students the power of other writers’ words.  I wanted to teach them to read poetry not to “torture a confession out of it…to find out what it really means,” as Billy Collins writes, but to celebrate the act of simply reading that poem.  So, we glued in an excerpt from Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming.  I modeled for students how to respond to Jacqueline as a real writer, to notice and note her craft moves, to be inspired by her ideas and write more about our own feelings on those topics.  We wrote atop her poem, prioritizing our responses, reactions, and ideas rather than some analysis or “dulling down” of her meaning.  Responding personally and authentically to published authors will become an important part of our daily routine in our writer’s workshop.

I invited students to enter into a written dialogue with the authors we read.  So, as I settled down this weekend to begin reading a tall pile of student writing that had been turned in, I knew I had to walk the talk, as Amy always reminds me I must.  I ask students to treat authors as real people worthy of critical response, so why would I treat my student writers any differently?  I’ve always struggled with how to grade/evaluate/respond to student writing, but I’m thinking about it in a new way this year.  I just want to have conversations with my students about their writing, whether it’s in the form of a writing conference or in a weekend session with a stack of papers.  I know that when these conversations occur, student growth will follow.  In the excellent Portfolio Portraits, edited by Don Graves and Bonnie Sunstein, Linda Rief writes in an essay IMG_9248titled “Finding the value in Evaluation:”

I have discovered that students know themselves as learners better than anyone else.  They set goals for themselves and judge how well they reach those goals.  They thoughtfully and honestly evaluate their own learning with far more detail and introspection than I thought possible.  Ultimately, they show me who they are as readers, writers, thinkers, and human beings.

My thinking aligns with Linda’s.  When I remove myself from the role of “grader” or “evaluator,” I become an authentic reader of my students’ writing.  I invite students to assess their own writing, which in the words of Linda Rief “shows the value in evaluation.”

So this weekend, I read my students’ writing like I read books.  I noted beautiful lines they wrote, jotted down spiffy words they harnessed, and responded to thought-provoking ideas I saw them getting at.  I asked them questions, wondered about their meanings, and looked very much forward to reading more of their words in the future.  I will confer with students as I return their papers, and we’ll talk about how they might move forward with some of the topics, ideas, and stories they’d begun in these early writings.

In our classroom, we consider our responses to published writing as important as the writing itself.  The value of reading and writing lies in the interaction between the reader and the words, as Louise Rosenblatt describes.  When I transfer that value from the way I want my students reading writing to the way I want to read my students’ writing, new and important opportunities for student learning occur.

Contagious Creative Concentration: A Week in Reflection

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Creative concentration is most definitely contagious!

This summer at the University of New Hampshire’s Literacy Institute while Shana, Amy, and Jackie were studying with Tom Newkirk in their plight to dig deep into the lives of males and their literacy (needs), I was across the hall studying with Penny Kittle (and other fabulous educators nationwide) in a course titled Contagious Creative Concentration.

The ledges were lined with pieces exposing the truth about doodling, coloring, sketching and zendangling.  The truth is that while reading and writing is foundational to all literacy

The Art of Zendangles: Unique repetitive patterns infused with creativity and focus.

The Art of Zendangles: Unique repetitive patterns infused with creativity and focus.

movement, there is also much need for the art of creativity to be infused into the Readers Writers Workshop – regardless of grade level.  And while we had the opportunity to “play” alongside the rigorous workload we were collectively engaging in, there was a calm that permeated throughout the entire week.  There was color.  There was focus.  There was deep level of inquiry.  Yet, there was rarely a moment that colored pencils or adult coloring books were not being utilized during the process.

An article published in The Atlantic: The Cognitive Benefits of Doodling explores the benefits that enhance one’s performance.  The studies and stats are real – exposing educators everywhere to understand the importance of this type of creative play.

Two women writers who, not only holistically believe in the ideas outlined in the above article, but shared their knowledge and creative process with us during our time at #UNHLIT15 were Lee Ann Spillane @spillarke and Linda Urban @lindaurbanbooks.  Both published authors who embrace the creative process as a means (and a journey) to authentically design and originate their work.

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Work in progress: My own thinking

While we were exposed to those who have been finding success throughout their personal creative journeys, we were also asked to think about utilizing collage work to demonstrate our own creative process.  (For educators who employ the format of the Writer’s Notebook suggested by Penny Kittle, it is dedicated to this element of creativity.)

Last March I posted Today We Draw chronicling the day students and I needed a break from the constant push and rigor of our daily work together.  At that time, I recognized the importance of breaking for us to explore a creative outlet, yet what I’ve learned this summer is that it is downright unfair to carve out days for creativity and exploration.  It needs to be a daily constant in all of our classrooms.  Students need to have the freedom to doodle on the corners of pages, zendangle on a post-it, or engage in some good old fashion fun equipped with a coloring book.

So, as I start to plan for the upcoming school year, I find it imperative to ensure that pencils (of all colors) are sharpened, coloring books are displayed, and doodling is not only encouraged but a constant in our community.

What are your thoughts wrapped around the idea of creativity (in all its forms) being invited into your classroom community?  What success have you had in doing so?  

 

Reflection, Rejuvenation, Rebirth

May and June always bring sunnier skies, feistier students, and more hopeful days.  Like Amy, I enjoy the last weeks of school, and often spend many of them feeling proud of my students, making big plans for the next year, and reading a ton in order to ramp up my booktalks.  This time of year is my time for reflection, rejuvenation, and rebirth.

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This spring, I’m excited that I have the opportunity to participate in a National Writing Project course, which is uniting me with other English teachers from my area.  Talking with them has helped to energize me even more so than usual at this time of the year, and some of their words have really helped me reflect.

First, my notebook musings during our first class led me to a powerful play on words–listening is at the heart of our teaching.  I’ve written before about the value of talk, but I’m thinking long and hard now about the power of listening…truly hearing our students’ hopes and strengths and worries and wonders.  I’ve paid special attention to emphasizing listening in my lessons these past few weeks, because I know I won’t get to hear these wonderful students’ words after the year ends.

Later in the NWP class, while assessing some of our students’ written products, we were asked to identify the skill we had been aiming to teach, and then evaluate how well our students internalized that lesson.  Claire, an elementary teacher, said that it was impossible to look for just one thing–“Writing is so…big,” she said.  I couldn’t agree with her more.  As I read my own students’ work, I saw themes of my own pedagogical beliefs running through their writing.  They were using beautiful language, inspired by our daily poem or craft-study quickwrites, in all of their writing–nonfiction too.  They were writing strong pieces thanks to the risks they felt safe taking in their choice of topic, genre, and style.  They were producing prolifically, writing long, short, funny, serious, sad, exciting, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose–everything.  Their portfolios are thick with creation.  Writing is big, indeed.

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It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and with that came some delightful thank-you notes from my students.  One student made a list of things he was thankful I did, and he repeated how thankful he was for my “cool passionate thing for teaching…like seriously, the passion thing.”  I recently read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that claimed the four properties of powerful teachers were personality, presence, preparation, and passion.  I like to think of passion as fangirling, which I do on a daily basis about books, student writing, authors, and all things bookish.  I’m never sure how much of that passion reaches students, but since this one specifically noted the “mega good booktalks,” I think it gets through to at least some kids.  This thank-you note really rejuvenated me, and now that I know my booktalks are working, I’ll keep at them with new gusto until June 12.

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Continuing to revise and change my curriculum doesn’t stop because the year is nearly over.  I’m still wildly out of control on Amazon, buying titles as I get ideas for new units, themes, or genres (like the huge list of novels in verse I jotted down during our #poetrychat Monday night).  A new focus on science fiction, poetry, and nonfiction has been what I’ve noticed in my cart of late.  I am changing as a reader and a teacher, valuing those genres more than I once did, making a strong effort to transfer that new passion to my students.

My teaching philosophy is constantly shifting, evolving, being reborn.  Its biggest shift this year, I think, can be best summed up with a quote from another NWPer from my class last week.  While talking about meeting and learning from great teachers at NCTE, he said he felt like they were “the Wizards of Oz, but they were inviting me to peek behind the curtain.”  I love this analogy, because while great teaching may seem like unattainable magic, I now feel like I understand how to be effective.  I’ve studied living, breathing mentor texts like Penny Kittle, Tom Romano, Amy Rasmussen, Jackie Catcher, and Erika Bogdany, and am looking forward to learning from Tom Newkirk at UNH this summer.  In the past two years, I’ve been reborn as a teacher, whose confidence has grown as I’ve continued to strengthen my practice by dissecting and imitating the successes of others, just like my students do when we analyze mentor texts in class.

Springtime is a time for reflection, rejuvenation, and rebirth.  Nature is no different from my teaching as I think about this year and next, and about the beauty of its constant blossoming and change.  I know our last six weeks will fly by, so I’ll enjoy every moment of them before the luxurious summer begins!

What are you reflecting on this spring?  What has rejuvenated you as the year comes to a close?  What elements of your teaching will be reborn this year or next?  Share in the comments!

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