The way we behave, the way we treat others, the way we respond, the way we support, defines the work experience for everyone around us.
Some of our Choice Literacy contributors meet in virtual writing groups. It’s a simple practice that generates writing and helps form a community among contributors. Every now and then (or more accurately, every time we meet), life demands impose on one or two of us. It is inevitable, really. Our contributors work full-time in schools, have families, and are immersed in their communities. It’s what makes me admire their work so much—they are writing in the midst of busy careers and personal lives.
Recently one of our contributors was hit by a fever before a virtual writing group meeting. She turned in her draft the day before the scheduled meeting with an apology for it being a “drafty-draft.” I was impressed that she wrote in spite of being sick. She sent an email the next day, telling me she was feeling too lousy to join the group. However, she made notes for each of the group members about their writing and said she would email the feedback to each person individually.
At the end of her email she wrote, “Last thing: No need to talk about my draft when you meet tonight and I’m in absentia.”
During our meeting I told the group about the contributor feeling sick and said, “She doesn’t want us to talk about her writing without her.” This made everyone laugh.
“Don’t we all feel that way?” said one of the contributors.
It doesn’t matter if you are age 7 or 17 or 67: sharing the words we write makes us vulnerable. We all know feedback is essential to becoming stronger writers. Yet, as contributors who share their writing regularly, we found it unsettling to imagine others talking about our writing without us. It reminded us of our students. Just like we wanted to be able to explain or respond to comments, students don’t want their work discussed without someone listening to them.
In our classrooms, may we remember that listening to students is just as important as assessing the work they are doing. In fact, taking the time to listen may be the most important work we do all day long.
This week we look at thoughtful ways to give feedback online. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Matt Renwick explains why it’s useful to give staff a platform to provide any feedback anonymously—even those concerns that might seem trivial at first glance.
Stacey Shubitz considers the power of feedback in many forms for helping students feel seen, valued, and heard online.
Mandy Robek shares some of her favorite read alouds for building community in the first two weeks of school.
Jennifer Gonzalez explores how student blogs can be a potent tool for expression and feedback, as well as a way to explore passions and career possibilities.
It’s tough these days for preservice teachers to get into classrooms to observe teachers and students in literacy workshops for required field experiences. Most schools will not allow visitors or interns during the pandemic, and many districts have moved to fully online instruction. Choice Literacy to the rescue! We are now offering a virtual field experience through the over 900 classroom videos from grades K-8 on the site, featuring top teachers from around the country. We’ve developed this $49 option as an alternative to a traditional fieldwork experience, and it includes a three-month Classic Classroom membership. You can read more about it and register here.
In our online course Better Student Feedback, Ruth Ayres shares a wealth of resources from Choice Literacy contributors focused on the power of giving and receiving student feedback. These courses are free to our paid annual subscribers, and the low fee of $39 for non-subscribers includes a two-month membership to the site. Click here for details.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Christy Rush-Levine discovers that a move to digital feedback reveals many important truths about her middle school students, including insights about the effect of grades on how learners view response to their work.
Bitsy Parks shares how she and her first-grade students used photography to bridge the distance between home and school this spring, building skills she is using this fall in remote learning contexts.
Leigh Anne Eck lists critical questions teachers might ask themselves as they build online writing communities where everyone is comfortable giving and receiving feedback.
In an encore video, partner teams in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class share their drafts and ask for specific feedback on their opinion-writing pieces.
Stella Villalba shares her process for creating action plans with teachers for supporting individual students. Stella works with English language learners, but the principles are applicable for any child.
In this quick video, Principal Lee Snider talks with literacy coach Lora Bieghler about developing a rapport when a coach is new to the building.
One of the most important skills leaders need is the ability to give critical feedback. Ed Batista gives advice on how to present feedback that might not be welcomed.
No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better— because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.
Jim Yong Kim
That’s all for this week!