I recently attended the Wisconsin State Reading Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was my first time attending the convention and was not disappointed. I attended with one my reading teacher colleagues and wish I had brought all of our district's teachers of reading (isn't that all teachers?). Here is my rundown...
Friday's keynote was Andy Hargreaves, who co-wrote the book Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School with Michael Fullan. This book is a must read for any educator leader. I was ecstatic to hear him speak. His address was enlightening, uplifting, and energizing. He did not disappoint. His focus was on the investment it takes to get a return. If we want our schools to perform, we have to invest in them, both with various forms of engagement (behavioral, cognitive and emotional) and with human, social and professional capital.
Teachers need to be a professional to teach, and he related it to the doctor profession. Being a doctor is about being a team-not knowing everything, but knowing who to talk to. A successful doctor learns with and from other doctors. He/she collaborates with professionals. Teachers are no different. There is a push for teachers to become certified quickly and not pass through an education program. We sure wouldn't want our doctors certified this way, why would would want this for our teachers?
He touches on big business seeing education as the next huge market. They want to yield a short-term return, and these include: testing companies, technology companies and charter schools. Sad...our children are not for sale.
- Chris Lehman
I attended many other amazing sessions. I got to see one of my favorite presenters: Chris Lehman. He works for the Teacher's College and never disappoints.
Chris loves his job and it resonates through his presentations. Love is at the heart of close reading. Close reading is something we all do naturally when we care about it. We notice things that no one else sees. When we share these things, we bring others in too. And you only need to do it when it is right for your kids.
Chris also got me to think differently about the level of writing my kids are doing about reading. Immediate feedback moves kids forward and it is not one directional. The writing your kids do is feedback about your teaching. Take a look at the books your kids are reading, think deeply about the characters, setting and structure in these texts. Have your kids write little, more often. Then start to look at your student's responses. Are they at the level of the texts they are reading or a few below? Say to them..."What I know about books like yours..."
Also, if kids just want to read and not write, maybe we haven't asked them to do the writing that is intellectually challenging enough.
I attended quite a few coaching and RtI sessions. I am pondering these questions:
- Is our literacy instruction as good as it could be in every place?
- Is the intervention providing for greater levels of proficiency in the core?
- Are you a leader or a manager? Leaders prefer people work; managers prefer paperwork
- How do you move core expectations to the classroom?
- Are you, as a coach, immersing yourself in the classroom event?
- Are you reflecting?
- How can we learn from and honor families?
- If you are not a learner, how do you promote learning with your learners?
Probably my next favorite thing (besides seeing Chris Lehman), was connecting, in person, with my PLN that I connect with on Twitter. I got to see my good friend Jillian (@heisereads), and meet up with Aliza (@alizateach), Jenn (@jennseiler), Meenoo (@MeenooRami), Donalyn (@donalynbooks), Matt (@ReadByExample), Amber (readattheEDGE), Kristin (@KristinZiemke), and Tom (@twhitford). I am so thankful for Twitter and for what it has brought to my professional and personal life. I have grown so much by learning through these people and I look forward to even more learning in the future.
Jillian, Donalyn, Aliza & Jenn
Ok...my last bit of reflection is on the food. It was amazing. No bag lunches here. Fully served: salad, main course and dessert. I will come back just for that :)
Thank you WSRA for putting on a fabulous event. I look forward to next year!