What we have been becomes
The country where we are.
We Portlanders love our tea and coffee. It’s part of our identity, warding off the gray mornings with bracing jolts of caffeine-induced liquid energy. It is a Northwest tribal ritual that fights off seasonal affective disorders. My preference is for Premium Earl Grey which I purchase from a favorite shop in the Pearl District. I hoard this tea, and carefully measure it out by the teaspoon each afternoon, savoring the experience.
In his book How, Then, Shall We Live?, Wayne Muller tells a story about some friends who travel to China and bring back old teapots to sell to support their traveling habits: “The pots were made of clay and were very old, some several hundred years old. Gaylon told me that the Chinese say after a hundred years of daily use, the pot becomes thoroughly seasoned. You need only pour hot water into the pot, and the pot itself will make tea.”
Reading this story, I found myself asking the question, “If you poured water into me, what would I brew?” One of the profound truths that has informed my life as an educator is the simple tenet “You teach who you are”–for good or ill. What is steeping within me that flavors my encounters with the children and teachers I work with? I want to remind myself of my grounding in my daily encounters. What do I believe in and how is that coming out in my relationships with the school community? And where might I be a bit jaded—not relying on my best self, but falling back on old unexamined habits?
This fall, over my daily afternoon tea, I’ll be asking what is brewing in my teaching encounters. And I’ll be asking my colleagues and friends to ponder: “What have you experienced over the years to the point that it has become a part of who you are and what you do? If we poured water into you, what would you brew?”
This week we look at rethinking some of the routines that define writing workshops, the habits of experience often developed over many years and classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ruth Shagoury is a professor emeritus at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She blogs with her daughter Meghan Rose about children’s books at www.litforkids.com.
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Ruth Ayres considers what’s essential in writing workshop routines:
Here are some tips for establishing a routine for taking notes on students:
Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts share advice on getting students into the routine of using writing mentor texts on their own.This is part of their DIY video series:
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This week we start a new series on getting to know writers early in the year from Dana Murphy. In this week’s introduction, Dana writes about the litmus tests we give writing teachers to analyze whether or not they are teaching the “right” way, when we might better serve students by focusing on the six truths of writing:
Christy Rush-Levine breaks her routine of responding to student writing, and instead calls on students to guide and support peers. She shares some surprising results in Last Chance Workshop:
Justin Stygles questions his conferring routine during writing workshops, and the value of interrupting students early in the drafting process:
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski helps fifth grader Ben brainstorm ideas for writing, and in the process encourages him to try a new genre:
That’s all for this week!