I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.
Years ago I attended a research retreat in the Midwest. It was held in a unique setting—a beautiful, expansive private home that had been donated to a nonprofit and turned into a haven for seminars. The place had a storied history. It was designed and built by a famous architect who was known for integrating the outdoors into his designs. There was gorgeous wood everywhere, tumbling stones, and ledges to sit on. The whole thing was a little cold and not my cup of tea, but it was breathtaking to view.
The architect insisted on designing and fabricating every detail of the place, from the furniture to the doorknobs. The owners loved it, and happily moved in. That’s when the troubles began. The architect visited after a month and discovered they’d moved some end tables and replaced other items. They’d added throw pillows and a blanket to the couch. The architect was furious, and insisted his original creation had to be restored. Thus began a series of heated arguments. He even sneaked into the house in the middle of the night and moved furniture around. The architect and owners ended up in court. Eventually the owners had to have the locks changed to keep the architect out.
It’s hard to let go of our creations. The biggest challenge in teaching and leading may be knowing what to hold on to and what to let go of. You love running your school’s Literacy Night, until you don’t because it’s one responsibility too many. But your initial joy at having someone else take over can turn to anger when they change the format. Or turn an evening event into a breakfast.
When we turn anything over to colleagues or students, change is inevitable. No one likes change, and the hardest changes of all are the ones that transform something we made out of love, sweat, and hard labor. But once you’ve turned it over, it’s no longer yours. A house is made to be lived in, and when someone moves in, it is their home. A school community lives and breathes too. If you don’t want to be “that guy” sneaking in at midnight rearranging end tables, you have to find a way to let go gracefully of your creations.
This week we look at teacher modeling in literacy workshops. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Melanie Meehan explains why it is important to mentor students who are struggling with correct examples, and why she cautions writing teachers to avoid “find the mistakes” exercises.
Gretchen Taylor considers the role of reflection in learning after demonstration lessons, with specific examples from her work with a teacher.
Cathy Mere shares three mentor texts that can serve as models for students of how to be courageous.
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.
Tammy Mulligan considers the rituals she has for preparing to write, and then uses what she learns in classroom writing workshops.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find their middle school students need some scaffolding to tease out essential details in literature.
In this week’s video, Dana Murphy leads a minilesson on book club conversations, using a fishbowl strategy and building blocks to support more sophisticated conversations.
In an encore video, Stella Villalba models nonfiction writing for her first- and second-grade English language learners, and in the process integrates vocabulary instruction into her lesson.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Ruth Ayres observes a coach who is a master at modeling lessons. What looks easy and natural on the surface belies all the skill and planning just below the surface.
“You don’t have to write to teach writers.” Cathy Mere is shocked when she hears a literacy coach make this statement. But the more she allows her conventional wisdom to be challenged, the more insight she has into helping teachers who don’t see themselves as writers.
Stephanie Affinito shares resources for strengthening your coaching cycles.
You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.
That’s all for this week!