Thursday, March 10, 2016

Journey to Understanding

I was recently having a conversation with several teachers in conflict, and I had the realization that teaching philosophy was the deeply embedded factor in the disagreements. The expectations and clarity needed to be reset, and so I started my Journey.  

My ELA Instructional Coach and I sat down to capture our own written, standard, non-negotiable philosophy for our campus for deep and meaningful reading and writing learning.  We pondered teaching strategies and structures, reminisced about the good things that worked when we were English teachers, separated the doable from the dead, and enjoyed molding our vision together.

After we were finished, I was left questioning what kids wanted in all of this, how they would feel about our vision, and what their vision held. I led my IC down to the 7th grade hallway and gathered 5 kids to start that conversation.

What we learned yesterday on our Journey to Understanding:
  • The kids deep down want to write more. Really?!? More!!??! Yes, but very deep down.  
  • They want to experience more group conversation about their books. The "chit-chat" of adult-like book club conversation. Questions and challenges and prove your statement-type conversation.
  • They value picking their own books, but like to be exposed to different genre.
  • They want to talk through scenarios or debate with a group: the "what ifs" and "how comes" and ponderings involved in dissecting literature.
  • Most importantly, they want all kids to get help and to grow, from kids who get A's to kids who get C's as well as those who really struggle.  

It was validating to see their thoughts, hopes and wishes mirror those of our vision.  We are all constantly trying to improve for the better, and talking to kids is such an important checkpoint on the Journey.

Don't forget their voice while on your Journey.  Stop and talk to them; listen and learn from them.