I admit I tend to be an action person, jumping in with both feet, easily drawn to myriad possibilities. You may overhear me saying, “We could do this, or this, or this…” Being invited by @MrSurti to think about some new year commitments forced me to stop and consider those areas of my professional life that could benefit from closer attention. Just like Nancie Atwell pushes her students to consider where they’d like to go in their writing, I had to ask myself, “Where would I like to go this year in terms of my professional growth?”
Embrace the Real World
“I will not dwell in a bubble.”
I commit to embracing the real world by blurring the lines between inside and outside school. As I support teachers in literacy, I diligently want to look for authentic texts and tasks to engage students, to bring the world into the classroom. I want to ‘check’ routine practices from the past. For example, if we don’t complete comprehension questions, worksheets or book reports after reading a novel in the real world, then we won’t be doing that in classrooms either. Instead, we’ll have conversations, we may share reviews through book talks or online platforms. While I travel, read about, and volunteer in the real world, I am reminded to break down the walls of the classroom for students and teachers to participate in global conversations. Technology is one powerful way to bridge these worlds. I need to value students’ outside school literacies and support teachers in embedding meaningful use of technology in literacy. And that goes for my role too. I may not be in a classroom currently, but I need to model how to share my thinking publicly via social media and when I am facilitating professional learning.
Empathize with the Hard Work of Students Writing
“I will not hide my struggle.”
In order to imagine and empathize with students’ fears of writing and sharing their writing, I commit to engaging in the same process. I need to explore a variety of forms of writing, purposes for writing, share publicly, and seek feedback. Intimidating! I’ve always tried to adopt the mantra of never asking someone to do what you wouldn’t do yourself. But I somehow managed to excuse myself as a teacher from writing. With our focus on writing for Journeys into Literacy this year, I have a perfect motivator and no excuse. Part of this commitment will require sharing the struggle too. A post I read last night (@avivaloca) reminded me that we should avoid using our social media only as a highlight trailer of all the great things we are doing, but instead, to willingly share the messy moments too.
I commit to actively seeking out opportunities to empower others around me. This past summer I heard a speaker claim that you are one conversation away from a relationship that could change the course of your life…and theirs. If I express curiosity about others, listen actively, and am present in the moment, I am more confident that I will have others’ best interests at heart…and not my own. Further, I don’t have to have my hands in every pot! When I create space for others, they grow too.
Perhaps an unnerving aspect of responding to the challenge of revealing my commitments means that there is an unspoken understanding of accountability. Hopefully, evidence of these commitments will surface in my work.