How can principals help teachers build energy? It's an enduring question for a reason, with many possible answers. Don Graves once visited a school where each Wednesday morning the faculty met to have a breakfast of rolls, juice, and coffee and then moved into various curriculum focus groups. The faculty had one half hour together before school and then one halof hour after the children arrived on the busses. The staff ran the sessions and discussion groups. “I have but one requirement,” the principal said, “that everyone attend and no one be alone in their room. I make sure the kids are in a good situation for their half hour. Every June we reevaluate the Wednesday morning program and decide what specific interest groups will follow for the next year. In previous years we’ve produced lots of things: parent forums, a new math curriculum; we prepared a language arts presentation for parents.” This particular program had been going on for ten years. There is renewal for the staff in the middle of the week, and above all, keeps the staff in touch with each other and develops new ideas.
I began to teach without the threat of assessments and with colleagues who did support me, especially the principal. Yet, I remember the bewildering array of personalities in my thirty-nine students, the range of different parents, and the volume of curriculum to be grasped. I had trouble eating and sleeping and was short-tempered when I cam home from school in the afternoon.
First-year teachers will need to consider access points for making contact with other teachers, especially beginners. The most obvious are before and after school. During school there may be special breaks, lunch, or even teachers’ meetings, where you’ll have a chance to sit next to someone you wish to get to know. I am not speaking about extensive time commitments. Initially, the greatest need for new teachers is to know they are not alone, and that someone recognizes their place in the building. Simply saying, “How’s it going?” goes a long way.
In Writing with Mentors, high school teachers Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell prove that the key to cultivating productive, resourceful writers—writers who can see value and purpose for writing beyond school—is using dynamic, hot-off-the-presses mentor texts. Today, Heinemann Product Manager Kim Cahill tells the origin story of Writing With Mentors. You won't want to miss this.
Every so often we like to ask our authors about the books that most affected their teaching, the books that served as turning points in their practice or opened their eyes to a new way of approaching their work, thinking about education, or seeing children. In this installment, we bring you the professional book top five of Lindsey Moses, assistant professor of literacy education at Arizona State University, and former elementary teacher. Lindsey is the author of several Heinemann books. Her most recent book, "What are the Rest of my Kids Doing?" Fostering Independence in the K-2 Reading Workshop is now available, and can be ordered here. Continue reading →
The Writing Strategies Book started shipping this week. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the positive responses and enthusiasm from so many. Before you all get this book in your hands, though, I need to get something off my chest:
This book would not exist were it not for a community of friends, mentors, colleagues and teachers—giants—whom I’ve been lucky to know. I want you all to know them, too.
My most immediate teacher and mentor around the teaching of writing is Lucy Calkins. I first read her books in college, leaned on them heavily throughout my years in the classroom, and eventually was lucky enough to spend years with her at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Her contributions are deep-reaching—not only in writing curriculum and workshop methods of instruction but also as a mentor to so many who have gone on to inspire others. If you asked Lucy, though, she’d probably tell you she stands on the shoulders of her mentors, chief among them Don Graves. I came to Graves’ books, such as Writing: Teachers and Children at Work, many years after being introduced to Lucy’s books, but through Lucy, I was learning from this work years before going directly to the source.
This month we focused on the craft of teaching writers—not the writing. Revisit your favorites or find one you missed in the below collection of posts, content and other related links that supported our thinking this month.