Gotta Have Friends

Isn’t it fabulous to be a teacher today? We get to approach instruction in an innovative way, blend methods and delivery, ask questions, complete formative assessments, and differentiate all while observing in real-time the return on our instructional investments. High-fives to everyone. You are getting ready to throw up a high-five or fist bump, right? Don’t leave me hanging.

Wait, I have started rambling in blog-time excitement without taking a moment to introduce myself and set the tone. See, I was you twenty years ago, filled with enthusiasm, eagerness to build the most inviting and print-rich environment, completing an accident report because I stapled my finger to the bulletin board, psyching myself up to be the best for our most struggling students, and repeating frequently, “I got this! I got this! I got this. I got this???”

My name is Noelle Morris, thus KnoWell, and I was one of the original READ 180 teachers. I transitioned from the research with Orange County Public Schools and Dr. Hasselbring’s research with the literacy project to being the National Site Classroom for READ 180 in 1998. Thinking back, it was totally cool, and set me on a path to realize that collaborating with teachers, contributing to product development, and writing instructional materials was a passion. Hence two decades later, this is the road I’m traveling.

I want to use my blog to share my deep knowledge of our programs, model teacher metacognition, laugh, and discuss trends and hot topics as well as share stories that I experience as I travel across the country talking with READ 180 and System 44 educators weekly. Most importantly, I want to inspire you to know that you’ve got this. Let’s get started. 

Gotta Have Friends

Give me a thumb's up if you have recently left a Getting Started session with one of our amazing team members from Professional Services. Is your Professional Learning Guide bedazzled with notes, reminders, and tons of side-note ideas? Which instructional routine are you the most excited to begin to implement? How many times have you rearranged your classroom? Do you have that poster that no matter how much tape you use on the back it will not stick? In fact, you’ve thought about using Gorilla Glue, but rethink because your walls are freshly painted, and it was shared as a “don’t do this” in a faculty meeting. 

As teachers, we have similar “Back to School” moments. We go home and find that our non-educator friends often don’t have the same excitement about the anchor chart that we created from our favorite new Pinterest find. This is why we need to find our besties, thought partners, champions. There will be days that you want to talk a lesson out, ask for an opinion on instruction flow based on classroom design, and high-five the first moment of the breaking down of the failure cycle. We need to have a network. In 2003, we created the READ 180 Community, now Educator Community, to provide a space for READ 180 teachers to ask questions, find new tools, and share success stories. If you haven’t joined, please consider. Contribute to comments on Facebook and Twitter. Let us hear you, network, and build your network both at school, in the district, and on the Educator Community.

Types of Friends

Lunchroom Friends support us with a quick break. We establish a pattern of seating arrangements, learn what each other brings to eat, discuss power yoga, compare our Fitbit status, and exhale. At times, we discuss trends such as, how to keep fidget spinners out of the classroom. But, these friends give us a jolt in our energy to get to the next class with a second wind.

Teacher Besties provide us with the opportunity to celebrate, question, explore ideas, doubt, and remind us that we got this. Often, we have at least 1-3 besties. They see you struggle and find ways to share their expertise. They hear your students talking in another class about how fabulous your class is and let you know when you need this information the most. They travel to the store with you to help pick out your borders for the bulletin board as you need some creative influence. They decorate your door with 30 balloons and smile as your students say, “You’re 30? That is old, Miss.” And, they know when a movie is just the answer after a long day. These are our confidants and champions. We grow together and know how much we enjoy the work we do.

Professional Circle grows throughout the years. They are the educators that you meet along your professional journey. A Professional Circle friend remembers that you love a specific topic and pings you an article to read. This group keeps you challenged to be the best and in the know. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t seen you in a few days or a few years, because the connection was strong and you can always easily pick up where you left off. What I most enjoy about this group of friends is they can always challenge your thinking at the right time. In the work that I do now, I heavily rely on my Professional Circle.

Gaining Back to School Momentum 

One of my Professional Circles: Noelle Morris, Charmion Mohning, Theresa Bibbs, and Jackie Guerrero_Cypress-Fairbanks ISD

Suggested Reading

I look forward to hearing from you. Share your Back to School moments and classroom pictures. And, I hope to see you through my travels. I’m here to help you know READ 180, System 44, and our team well.

Love what you do. Do what you love. And know it well.


Orlando, Florida

One of the coolest and interesting facts about Noelle is that she was the first READ 180 teacher.