What we know matters but who we are matters more.
This fall I heard the amazing Brene Brown speak on the concept of belonging. It was only a few weeks after the floods in her hometown of Houston. She showed photos of four feet of water in her front yard, her husband in a small boat rescuing a neighbor’s dog, and a seemingly endless landscape of neighborhoods turned into muddy lakes dotted with forlorn-looking clusters of homes.
After professing her love for her city, its resilience, and the “Cajun Army” from Louisiana who saved so many, she shared a profound insight. “So many strangers put out hands to haul people into their boats and motor them to safety. And not once did anyone say, ‘Wait—who did you vote for in the election?’” When it comes to life-and-death situations, we’re bound by our humanity and not a small amount of basic goodness.
Our politics are a disaster in the United States, but one of the most insidious effects on daily life is that they promote a fierce tribalism in almost every realm. We are forever sorting the people around us into those who agree with us and those who don’t. The sorting tells us who is in our tribe and who is on the outside. But in the end, are those memberships in political or professional tribes the ones that matter the most? Think of who you would call if your child or spouse was suddenly seriously ill and needed care for weeks. Who is the one person who would drop everything to help you, putting their own life on hold? I suspect for many readers it isn’t someone who necessarily shares their political beliefs or views on best classroom practice. It’s just a person who loves you deeply, fiercely, and unconditionally, and has loved you for decades.
We’re in the middle of the dreaded “Jan/Febs” in schools, when many of us hunker down during cold, dark days and trudge through the testing season. The danger is that we can find comfort in warming our hands at the fires of our prejudices, burrowing further and further into the solace of our tribes.
So here’s a test for you. Think of the teaching tribe you run with, whether it’s in your school or on your Twitter or Facebook feed.
Think of something you believe that they don’t. You may have to think hard, because you may spend a lot of time suppressing this belief, but trust me, it’s there.
Now say that belief out loud.
Now make a commitment to share that belief with one other person in your teaching tribe.
The most courageous act is to share that belief with the whole tribe.
If you do, you may get angry or patronizing responses. You might get screeched at on Facebook. Your favorite blog may ban you as a traitor. The nastiness from inside groups you’ve pledged allegiance to is intense. People have never felt more vulnerable or frightened, and are looking for buckets for their frustration. You challenge your tribe, you become a bucket.
Yet according to Brene Brown, this is the beginning of belonging—to be willing to stand alone, to know how truly alone it feels to be honest about beliefs, no matter who might be challenged. To trust who you are and what you believe, and have confidence that discussions with anyone can only strengthen or change those beliefs in meaningful ways.
Listening to Brene Brown made me grateful. Because I’ve never had to reclaim my home from four feet of water and all the mud and mold that would follow. Because she made me realize I have sisters, friends, and a mom who would drop everything to hold my hair away from my face if I was vomiting after chemo. But mostly, Brene helped me realize there is far more that unites us than divides us, regardless of what you read on your favorite blog or hear in any teachers’ lounge. And that’s enough to make any winter seem a little less long.
This week we look at how to teach revision. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Franki Sibberson shares a lesson progression to help students learn how to give helpful revision feedback. She uses online videos and resources to support her work:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan have some practical advice for using drawing, talk, and routines as ways into understanding writing revision for learners in the primary grades:
Here are some of our favorite quotes from writers on revision:
Betsy Hubbard explains how openness to revision for her third graders begins with not overcommitting to “first words”:
Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers include a lot of wise advice on revision:
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Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students are adept at planning for writing with notes and visuals, but rarely revise their drafts. She develops a minilesson sequence to help them hone their revision skills:
In this week’s video, Bitsy Parks uses mentor texts and her own writing in a minilesson on how her first graders might use repeated phrases in their writing for more impact:
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills discover giving “compliments and wishes” aren’t enough when it comes to useful feedback for revision in peer groups. They implement a more structured response process for writing groups:
Gretchen Schroeder focuses solely on revision to introductions in her high school classroom with three fun activities to teach students new possibilities for beginnings:
In an encore video, Heather Rader shares a process for teaching peer editing and revision skills that helps students learn how to assist.each other kindly during writer’s workshop:
That’s all for this week!