This morning in my daily AM read through LinkedIn, I came across an article based on one of my leader's recent likes. Though the article focused on leadership development, there were two specific points that caught my attention to relating to the intervention classroom and Teaching & Learning in general; level of engagement and willingness to hear what we don't want to hear. These points charged my thinking that growth takes place when these two states of learning happen.
But, what comes first? I'm not saying it's as philosophical as the chicken or the egg, but at a critical moment of learning to shift to outcomes? Hmm! I think either can be the metacognitive line leader, but both exercised in the classroom and managed individually breaks the failure cycle. Last week, Shadrack, a former READ 180 student and All-Star, and I presented together. There was a moment when we were listening to each other's stories that we locked eyes and realized, "Wow! Neither of us would be here today if we hadn't been willing to listen and engage.” As Shadrack says, "It's not by chance."
I Don't Think I Like Where This is Going
My first-year teaching, I knew better than anyone that my instruction was not making an impact. It's wasn't too hard to realize that when you were writing more discipline referrals than lesson plans. Getting called down to the office was not any more enjoyable at 23, then at 15. Preparing to explain yourself without tears is a hard skill to master. Walking in, my strategy was going to be to talk first, but I quickly realized, the person on the other side of the desk, was going to execute the same one better; thus, causing me to have to improvise, which meant, I was going to listen. She said, "I need you to get better. Our students need you. I can tell in your eyes that you have a gift, but we need to correct the management. I've registered you for a professional development session on 'Discipline in the Secondary Classroom.' After you attend, decide on the first two strategies you can implement, make an appointment to talk with me, and plan to model what works." I thanked my principal, walked out, cried, but I showed up to the PD, and I'm still in the game.
What Did You Say?
There is some truth in the saying, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Since that initial professional development, I have strived to maintain a higher percentage of positive feedback versus constructive criticism. I giggle when I remember one of my students saying, “Miss, no one has ever told me that I was a struggling reader.” At the time, I had to act as if I was not shocked, but I also recall, that I didn’t say anything after that. There were probably many questions I should have and could have asked, but I chose to stay quiet. As I began to feel more confident in my classroom management, I began to observe that my students shifted the way they would imitate me. Instead of squealing at a high pitch, I would hear them say, “Listen, who am I right now? ‘You realize right now, that sleeping during the Independent Reading rotation is not an option.’ ‘Have you thought about how your decision to not participate will affect achieving your goal?’ ” I was actually flattered. That first year in the Literacy Project, I had a poster in my room that stated, “You will learn here. You will shine here. You will grow here.” I loved my homemade motivational poster. It was not easy telling my students that I could not give them all of the answers, but rather, we had to give our brains a workout. It wasn’t always fun either, because initially, I got sighs, groans, the most animated eye-rolls, and even some heads down. But the day my frequent head-down student quickly responded to my support with the words, “Back away Ms. Morris, you are always telling us to become an independent learner. We got this. Give us another minute,” I was empowered by the realization that the strategies I put into motion were working. I guess you could say that throughout those initial years, I sometimes had to think to myself, “What did you say?” However, what is most exciting to reflect on, is that my students were asking themselves the same thing, but changing their self-regulated reaction. We all selected to engage.
Having the opportunity to present with Shadrack allows me to hear his story, embrace that it is not by chance, and remember experiences to keep me going today. I am thankful for having mentors, coaches, and leaders say things that I may not want to hear so that I can make decisions, strive, and keep thriving. I am grateful for the opportunity to engage, ask questions, blog, and listen. Even Oprah says, “Everyone has a story.” Think back to the Mindset Matters Getting Started Workshop or your first two weeks, how did class sound then? What are you hearing now? What are you saying? What are students sharing? We are at the end of November- a cool time to reflect and not fall into a stagnant daily routine.
Just like the LinkedIn post, I hope to inspire you to think about your READ 180 or System 44 story. Share it. I am thankful for my story, but always excited to learn about others.
My READ 180 Thankful Note
How’s and Why’s intertwining
Actions and reactions achieving
New mindsets motivating
Knowledge clusters connecting
Future trajectory redirected
Unlimited potential realized
Do what you love. Love what you do!