One of the best parts of my job as a literacy coach (in five buildings) is that I get to visit a LOT of classrooms. This allows me to see the wide-ranging variety of environments, approaches, and lessons that teachers create to meet the needs of our learners. I can see firsthand that there is no “one right way” to teach. I am inspired by new ideas and strategies that I observe, and I do my best to share those with other teachers. Sometimes I feel like a honeybee who flits from flower to flower picking up and depositing the pollen of pedagogy. It’s one of the aspects of my job that I love the most!
Two weeks ago, I got to spread my bee wings and visit a ‘flower’ in Tennessee. I spent the day with over 50 teachers and teacher leaders from Sumner County Schools, just outside of Nashville. They had hired me to do a presentation of strategies from my book Close Writing. I work full time, so my only opportunity for this work is during my own breaks. I was excited to visit Tennessee in the springtime, and get an opportunity to see what writing workshop is like in classrooms halfway across the country.
The town of Gallatin sits only 300 miles from where I grew up, and I was immediately reminded of the pleasure of southern hospitality. The organizers of our workshop day (Susan and Mary) were eager to share the work going on in the hundreds of classrooms in their district. We discussed the progress they have made and their vision for moving forward. Teachers brought student writing from their state/local assessments. As I shared my ideas with teachers that day, I was able to contemplate the similarities and differences of our journeys. It gave me an even wider perspective on the needs of young writers and for their teachers who constantly strive to meet those needs. Teachers asked questions and shared ideas that helped me to grow as well.
I felt so fortunate to have this opportunity. It reminded me of the importance of encouraging teachers to open their doors and share their magic with colleagues. It reinforced my insistence that teachers be allowed opportunities to visit other classrooms to observe the myriad of possibilities for teaching approaches. Far too often teaching can be an isolating experience. Spending day after day ‘alone’ in our classrooms can limit our expectations or distort our perceptions of possibilities. Schools need to foster a greater sense of community within our buildings, but also beyond. We can learn so much from others who hoe this same row each day.
It is my hope that schools find ways to OPEN THEIR DOORS to invite others in and to allow teachers out to experience the vast and wonderful world of teaching and learning!
What’s On My Book Radar?
If you wondered how Kwame Alexander could possibly follow his brilliant novel THE CROSSOVER, you will find this book “unputdownable”! Nick Hall is a soccer-loving wordsmith whose father suffers from logorrhea and his mother leaves to pursue her career. Nick is left to navigate this new life with his best friend and chief rival, Coby. Written in verse, you will be tantalized by the variety of compositions which stitch together a captivating coming of age story. Another superb offering from this author who is turning so many kids onto books and poetry! MUST READ!
and then when you finish, Kwame has some recommendations for your TBR list!