Don’t trust what people tell you; trust what they do.
I just read the fascinating book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. It’s one of those rare nonfiction books that colors my view of almost everything. Seth takes readers into the world of “big data” without a hint of boring number crunching.
What I learned is that a lot of survey and research data can’t be trusted. What we share with others in surveys and on social media is often what we aspire to, rather than who we are. The premise of Everybody Lies is that the truth is out there, and that truth is what we’re typing into Google search boxes when no one is looking. It’s there that you can find anyone’s deepest needs, secrets, and fears. The truth is in phrases pecked into search boxes like these:
What to do when your coworkers hate you
Links between back pain and ovarian cancer
How to get my son to lose weight
Instagram is filled with photos of happy couples on vacations, with lots of beach shots of tan legs and mai tais. But if the big data from search engines is any clue, the husband is likely to be Googling how to survive a marriage with no sex. Odds are good the woman is searching the net with the phrase is my husband cheating on the same day she is posting those blissful photos.
Whether you use social media or not, everyone has an Instagram Self and a Google Self. This is human nature, and it presents one of the greatest challenges for anyone leading professional development sessions. We’re facing an audience of teachers happy to share their Instagram selves—the successes they have with students and the confidence they have in their instruction. But for meaningful change, we’re going to have to coax them to share more of their Google selves—the experiences that lead to midnight search-box queries like boring guided reading groups or why can’t my fifth graders spell high-frequency words when insomnia and insecurities strike.
That’s why I’m grateful for the fearlessness of the Choice Literacy contributors. Many pieces begin with something like a pause in the midst of a lesson that is clearly bombing. A coach might lead off with the tale of the time they burst into tears in front of a coworker. These stories aren’t told to celebrate failure or weakness. They are told because change begins with honesty about what isn’t working. If we can’t put at least a bit of our fears and vulnerabilities out there, we can’t learn and grow.
The challenge for you if you’re leading PD is to share more writing and videos that show teachers struggling, and how they dealt with that struggle. Chances are their solutions won’t be miracle cures, but an ongoing process of three steps forward and two steps back. We’re all vulnerable, and sharing honest portraits of teachers at work is a good starting point for building trust. Only then can you hope someday to learn what the teachers in your care are really typing into that Google search box at midnight.
This week we look at how teachers can help young learners develop reader identities. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Mary Lee Hahn has her students identify ideals they want to live by, posts them, and then builds a community that gels around an identity of success rather than arbitrary rules.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan help students use their reading notebook covers to celebrate their histories and identities as readers.
Pernille Ripp explains how exploring reader identity is ingrained in every conference and discussion in her classroom.
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.
The start of the school year is often all about building reader identities in classrooms. And then October comes, and many of the activities that help students celebrate their reading histories and preferences are forgotten. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share ways teachers can continue to help students define, refine, and expand their reading identities all year long.
Christy Rush-Levine uses book covers to help her middle-school students explore their histories (or “lineages”) as readers.
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski confers with a fifth grader who is looking for book recommendations. She creates a stack of realistic fiction books based on the student’s interests.
In an encore video, Katie DiCesare brings together a group of her first-grade students who are reading nonfiction, helping them to explore their reading identities and expand the ways they share what they are learning with classmates.
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.
To read or not read the student file? Some teachers are strong believers in “fresh starts” for all the children in their class, and never look at cumulative records. Jen Schwanke explains how these best of intentions can sometimes do damage when we ignore a student’s history.
Jean Russell shares how literacy coaches can use quotes in professional development sessions to explore teachers’ beliefs and identities.
If you are looking for some ways to invigorate your professional development sessions, Jennifer Gonzalez shares nine alternatives to traditional formats.
When you feel like you’ve finally got your arms around something, then it’s time to go get your arms around something else. Brad Pitt
That’s all for this week!