Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an elementary principal in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Matt blogs at Reading by Example (readingbyexample.com), tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD.

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How Do Literacy Leaders Supervise and Support Online Instruction?

Supervising and supporting instruction is never easy for literacy leaders, and remote settings compound the challenges. Matt Renwick shares his best advice for providing assistance in virtual learning environments.

Developing Literacy Traditions and Rituals

Matt Renwick reflects on the traditions and rituals that strengthen a schoolwide literacy community.

Feedback That Fortifies

Matt Renwick considers what type of feedback from school leaders can be most helpful to teachers.

Professional Renewal: Facilitating Change Within Ourselves

If we want others to change, we first have to be open to change within ourselves. But what does that look like, and how can we embrace the tension that change brings? Matt Renwick explores change from within for literacy leaders.

How Am I Doing? One Principal’s Experience with Feedback

Matt Renwick is like any of us—he is nervous about what he will learn when he asks teachers to assess his performance as a principal. He shares findings from a survey he gives to teachers.

Teaching Constructed Response Before Exams

Teaching the genre of tests can seem far removed from writing workshop. Matt Renwick explores how to teach constructed response in a way that is integrated with the tenets of good workshop instruction.

A Little Bit of Clarity

Matt Renwick goes out to buy a new pair of glasses, and gets a stern lecture on taking care of them. The experience makes him ponder how we get clarity for best practices in literacy instruction.

The 70% Rule

Stretch yourself, but not to the point of pain. Matt Renwick has practical tips for how leaders can continue to push themselves to grow and learn new things without succumbing to the hurry-up, stressed culture so prevalent around us.

Environmental Walks: A Snapshot of a Literacy Culture

If you want to get a quick snapshot of literacy instruction at your school, do an environmental walk. Matt Renwick shares his process and notes from one of these walks, as well as the issues they raise.

Where Confidence Begins

Learning new things is sometimes hard, if only because it brings out our vulnerabilities and insecurities. This is particularly true for leaders, who are already supposed to know everything. Matt Renwick uses the experience of learning to build a fence to model learning for teachers.

Celebration and Reflection for Teacher Growth

Matt Renwick rejects the notion of “carrots and sticks” for school improvement when it comes to understanding and motivating teachers. He provides a template for a professional development session to help teachers celebrate and reflect upon growth.

Best Intentions with No Assumptions

Matt Renwick considers how assumptions about teachers and students can stymie leaders and learning in schools.

Blind Spots

Matt Renwick has to confront his “blind spots” and assumptions when his data from instructional walks about classroom talk in small groups and whole-class teaching situations does not match teacher perceptions.

Never Again

Matt Renwick explains how the Never Again protocol for professional development sessions can help teachers rethink and revise their literacy practices.

Readers Want to Respond

Matt Renwick is surprised when his son completes a reading quiz that isn’t required, and finally realizes it’s all about reading response.

An Ounce of Doubt

Matt Renwick decides to provoke some cognitive dissonance in teachers around the topic of guided reading. He finds his own beliefs are challenged instead.

Finding Time for Classroom Walk-Throughs

Matt Renwick is surprised when teachers evaluate his school visibility as weak. He decides to make his classroom visits more purposeful, and shares the strategies he implements.

Aligning Commercial Practices with Excellent Literacy Instruction

Matt Renwick explores how literacy leaders can help teachers stay true to a shared vision of instruction and learning as they explore commercial program options.

Hidden Treasures

Matt Renwick describes the process of paying attention to telling details, and gives practical advice for teaching this skill to young writers.

The Hole in Your Swing

The hole in your swing is your greatest weakness as a literacy leader. Matt Renwick explains how you can face your own vulnerability as a literacy leader and tackle it head-on.

A Literacy Foundation

A literacy community is only as strong as its foundation. Matt Renwick uses discussions around mission statements and shared texts to build a collective vision for literacy instruction in one school.

Data Pictures Instead of Data Walls

Matt Renwick finds that data pictures instead of data walls are less intimidating for staff, and also allow for some creative collaboration around what data might be useful in analyzing achievement.

Community over Connectivity: Mindful Technology Practices

Matt Renwick considers how technology can hinder building relationships or be used as a tool in fledgling classroom communities.

Three Challenges for the 40 Book Challenge

Matt Renwick encourages you to ask a few critical questions before you adopt the 40-Book Challenge or any other activity with a number for a goal you’re going to be tied to all year long in your classroom.

Whenever They Are Ready: Building Trust for PD Success

Matt Renwick finds he needs to take a deep breath, listen, and be open to options when there is a disagreement about next steps in a school improvement initiative.

Rethinking Morning Announcements

"Are you going to read one of your stupid quotes again?" This question from a "frequent flyer" in the principal's office got Matt Renwick to consider ways to change up the morning announcements with a variety of literacy-related components.

Resisting Traditional Definitions of Productivity

Matt Renwick explores the differences between commonly accepted measures of productivity and the work that has the most value for literacy leaders.

Old Technology for New Engagement

Matt Renwick repurposes nearly obsolete technologies such as typewriters and Polaroid cameras for surprising new learning in classrooms.

Personalizing Professional Learning Opportunities

Matt Renwick considers how literacy leaders can help teachers tailor professional development to their individual needs.

Fail to Learn

Which grade level would you least like to teach? Matt Renwick explains why you need to confront your fears and do a demonstration lesson with those students. In Matt’s case, the lesson involved entering the wonderful world of kindergarten.

Developing a Principal and Coach Partnership

Matt Renwick explains how he works as a principal to build a relationship with the school's literacy coach, including scheduling weekly meetings and sharing responsibilities in whole-staff meetings.

Using Tech to Find Authentic Audiences for Student Writing

Matt Renwick discovers technology provides many authentic audiences for student writing.

Literacy and Global Competence

“China is going to kill us all!” This quote from a student causes Matt Renwick to stop and consider how schools can use literacy to promote global understanding.

Breakthroughs and Barriers: Going Schoolwide with a Literacy Initiative

What’s going well with literacy in your teaching community? What’s getting in the way? Matt Renwick considers breakthroughs and barriers in making literacy instruction more of a priority in his school.

Embedding Reading into Staff Meetings

Matt Renwick shares how he elevates routine meetings by embedding discussion of professional reading into them.

Going Google as a Literacy Leader

Matt Renwick combines principles for productivity with Google tools to organize his work.

Professional Learning Beyond PLCs

Matt Renwick shares three alternatives to PLCs that are less time intensive and can be integrated into existing meetings and routines.

Learning and Leading Through Teaching

If you want to understand the real concerns of teachers, you have to teach children. Not only in demonstrations, and not only collaboratively, but solo with the constraints any teacher faces. Matt Renwick explains how these experiences are invaluable for his work as a literacy leader.

A Third Way

Matt Renwick is asked to intervene by a group of teachers with a support staff member who isn't meeting their expectations for working with students. And then things get complicated.

Using Digital Tools for Instructional Walks

Matt Renwick avoided using digital tools during classroom visits in order not to intimidate teachers. He shares how over time his practice changed when he saw the power of some tools for expanding and extending his communication with colleagues.

Resisting Rubrics

Matt Renwick explains why sometimes the best way to grow reading abilities in students is to resist rubrics.

Moves for Struggling Writers

Here are Matt Renwick's three favorite moves for helping struggling writers.

It’s the Little Things: Small Actions for Building a Healthy Literacy Culture

Matt Renwick explains how everything from symbols to basic cleanliness in schools affects the climate for literacy.

Can Anyone Be an Instructional Coach?

When it comes time to hire a new literacy coach, Matt Renwick finds himself focusing on three simple and essential qualities every coach must possess.

Using Concern Forms for Feedback

Matt Renwick explains why it’s useful to give staff a platform to share any concerns anonymously—even those that might seem trivial at first glance.

Authentically Curious

Matt Renwick is stunned when a teacher complains that he doesn't take the time to know the staff. After getting over his initial anger, he decides on two strategies to address the problem.

Summer Quiet and the Three Rs

Matt Renwick shares his “Three Rs” for literacy leaders in the summer: read, reflect, and recharge.

Video Games and Literacy

Matt Renwick finds there is value in connecting video games and literacy in classrooms, once he and the teachers he works with can get past their leeriness.

A Better Hiring Process

Matt Renwick shares five tips for ensuring you have a smooth and smart hiring process.

Paraphrasing to Let Teachers Lead

Matt Renwick talks about the importance of paraphrasing and meandering in conversations after classroom observations so teachers can take the lead in their learning.

Literacy and Last Days: Keeping It Simple

Matt Renwick knew he didn't want any showy event for the last day of school, so he concentrates on finding quiet ways to celebrate reading and writing that don't stress staff or students.

The Thin Line Between Mentoring and Coaching

Matt Renwick resists the urge to console a teacher who is disappointed in a student assessment. Instead, he considers whether taking on a mentoring or coaching role would be most helpful.

Improving Professional Learning for All

Matt Renwick explains why the work before and after any professional development session is crucial in helping teachers become invested in the work.

It’s Not About Us

Matt Renwick realizes that sometimes we have to ignore our path as learners to help teachers find their own way to better instruction.

Supporting Introverts at Any Age

What many school leaders, teachers, and students have in common is that they are introverts. Matt Renwick remembers exhaustion from his first year of teaching because of introversion, and offers suggestions for meeting the needs of introverts in any school community.
 

Unspoken Leadership

Matt Renwick attends a recognition ceremony for high school students, and realizes that many of the traits celebrated in the students are the marks of quiet leadership.

Sustaining Trust While Maintaining High Expectations

Matt Renwick tackles a tricky issue for literacy leaders. How do you build a relationship of trust when there are clearly issues with the quality of a teacher's instruction?

Getting Started with Student Podcasting

If you’re interested in launching student podcasts, Matt Renwick has resources and tips for getting started.

Stop Paying in Quarters: Changing Thinking and Practice

Matt Renwick pays tolls the old-fashioned way on a long drive, and ponders connections between his experience and teachers' resistance to tech innovations.

200 Feet

“Never more than 200 feet from a book.” That’s the goal in Matt Renwick’s school, and in this photo essay you can see creative possibilities for sharing books throughout a school (and outside, too!).

Making Standards Work for You

Matt Renwick shares a template he uses with teachers to help standards inform their work.

Assessing Our Impact

Matt Renwick explains how classroom walk-throughs and surveys can be powerful tools for assessing your impact—if you collect the right data.

Making Classroom Visits a Habit

Matt Renwick examines the cues, routines, and rewards that are necessary for making classroom visits a regular part of his daily routine.

Every Classroom, Every Day

Matt Renwick shares the many benefits of literacy leaders spending as much time as possible every day in classrooms.

“Got a Minute?”: Rethinking My Schedule and Priorities

Matt Renwick rethinks his strategy of responding instantly to requests for his time, considering his priorities as a literacy leader.

Essential Resources for Building Professional Learning Communities

Matt Renwick shares his favorite online and print resources for PLCs, including templates and surveys for planning before groups are launched.

Questions for Reflection and Goal Setting with Teachers

Matt Renwick shares some of his favorite questions and strategies for promoting reflection and goal setting with teachers.

Closing the Year Strong: Leveraging Technology When Time Is Short

Matt Renwick shares some of his favorite tech tools and strategies for connecting with teachers during the stressful last months of school.

Transcribing Conversations During Instructional Walks

Matt Renwick finds transcribing brief snippets of conversation with students during his daily instructional walks ensures the focus stays on students in conversations with teachers.

The Students Behind the Numbers

Matt Renwick shares the challenges and benefits of using multiple measures to inform instruction with an example of the impact of a read aloud in a fifth-grade classroom.

Followership

An essential role for leaders is raising up more literacy leaders among the talented teachers on staff. Matt Renwick considers how anyone without a title or an obvious source of power can lead, and what that means for nurturing leadership skills.

Data That We Can Trust

Matt Renwick finds the data closest to the students we serve is more helpful to teachers than many benchmarks or screener scores.

Listen to Lead

Matt Renwick is disappointed by something he sees when he visits a teacher’s classroom. This leads him to ponder what his role is in supporting teachers as they make changes.

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