We are at the end of June and another school year has come and gone. Goodness! Do you feel the same as I do? The one hundred and eighty days seem to rotate faster and faster even though a day is still made up of the same twenty-four hour cycle. I think now, did I like those first few years, though they were plagued with self-doubt and failure, better because they seemed to last FOREVER, or is it the here and now, though it seems that everything simply flashes by way too quickly? The answer can be found somewhere between the two chunks of time– the beginning and here and now. In the beginning I learned key take-aways that continue to shift me from good to great. Through my twenty-five years in education, I have been lucky enough to be matched to some of the most phenomenal mentors, coaches, and professional learning. This past week attending the Model Schools Conference with the 180 Educator Winners, I have summarized the value of what I have learned. There is a cycle that keeps us not only going, but giving: professional borrowing, professional learning, reflection, feedback, and celebration.
I chuckled out loud, I am pretty sure everyone looked over at me, but when Doug Lemov shared that a strength of a master teacher is stealing during his talk on Practice Perfect, I could not help myself. My first coach encouraged me to visit other teachers’ classrooms. She shared that it was important to not only observe student interactions with teacher, each other, and content, but look at the walls. My coach was encouraging me to take in everything from the environment, deconstruct it, and then synthesize what I noticed to create my own. Yes, this is a form of borrowing, but practitioners must observe, test, refine, develop, and teach to ensure that what we are using yields a high effect to impact learning. Yes, I started way before Pinterest and camera phones. I drew everything with annotated notes, then prioritized what I found to be the most aligned to my delivery. My next step was to star what I needed to practice or get help creating because it was not comfortable or natural. This was my second priority because it was noticed that students were extremely engaged, but I knew it was going to take me time. I had already experienced my students laughing when I was attempting non-specific praise. Heck, even I laugh recalling them asking, “Miss, why don’t you just say, ‘Good job?’ You’re using a lot of words if that is your point.” Come to find out, adding praise bubbles around the back of your wall and asking students to share how they would like to receive feedback helps create authentic moments. My friend and colleague shared celebration applause with us this week, and yes, I’m stealing it. I know he will be flattered.
Practice Perfect has been ordered and will be part of my summer reading. Doug reminded hundreds of us earlier this week that teachers “go live” four to five times a day. Any other performer, athlete, or surgeon that has to go live, would have practiced every moment hundreds of hours in order to perfect the movements to ensure the optimum results– a win, a standing ovation, a world record, a life saved, or a World Cup. In this book, he and his co-authors share 42 rules to not simply go from good to great, but “get better at getting better.” When by Daniel H. Pink is what I’m reading now. I’m beginning Chapter 2. I do not feel guilty about how I am reading this book. I am reading in chunks to observe and think. Plus, this chapter, “Afternoons and Coffee Spoons” is perfect for summer. Summer reading is judgement free. Then, I casually picked up one of our new books, The RBG Workout, by Bryant Johnson. I appreciate Justice Ginsburg’s last words in the forward, “This book, I hope, will help others to experience as I have, renewed energy to carry on with their work and days.” However, if you need more encouragement, checkout page 10 and make a poster of Bryant’s introduction message. “Whatever you do, do something.”
My Summer Favorite
From weareteachers.com on https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AfbQO4opPfOxZGrDO0M-GPw01euUnopuK6--TfK7QH5iIzZKYO2OMcY/
What have you learned, borrowed, created, and noticed made a difference? Add in comments to spark and shape dialogue. Add a picture of a fabulous anchor chart, give a good read, or simply share a statement of advice.
Talk to you in the next Knowell blog: Professional Learning and Reflection.
One of the coolest and interesting facts about Noelle is that she was the first READ 180 teacher.