Educator Parker Palmer talks about the importance of “third things” for teacher renewal and growth – poems, images, or ideas outside our immediate learning community that we can look at together, discuss, and analyze. These materials from outside our environment can serve as catalysts for viewing our learning and collaboration with colleagues with new eyes.
We’ve found quotes are wonderful “third things” for writing about learning, change, and professional development. Putting pen to paper forces anyone to think through issues and ideas with a greater depth. By focusing with colleagues on the same quote and writing about it, we find common ground and a starting point for exploring differences in how we view curriculum, students, and our strengths or needs as educators.
This e-Guide includes ten different quotes from a range of educators, activists, authors, and innovators. We like to throw out a quote and have study group participants write silently in response during study group meetings, especially when we find the group is getting into a rut. These quotes are also helpful in one-on-one coaching or mentoring sessions; we write at the same time we ask our colleagues to respond to the quote, so that they gain some insight into our learning even as we seek insight into theirs.
The quotes are formatted so that they can be easily photocopied and used in any setting. But if that seems a little too worksheet-like for your tastes, they are short enough to be copied onto a whiteboard before colleagues write out responses in journals, or sent over school e-mail as a “Reflection Quote of the Month,” or compiled on one page and copied for everyone to paste into their notebooks or journals as prompts when facing writer’s block in writing about professional learning.
Some of these quotes are terrific for launching a study group at the beginning of the school year. Others are best for jumpstarting reflection during the dreariest stretches of the winter. The questions after the quotes are designed to help you think about ways to adapt the reflection to your needs or interests, but it’s likely you’ll want to tweak them a bit to fit your setting and how your learning community is evolving.
To download this 12-page guide (pdf format), click here.