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Reflective Practice

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If you’ve been hanging out in the Building Better Writers Facebook group this month, then you know that I’ve been sharing daily posts intended to help teachers of all grade and experience levels design a beautiful narrative writing experience for their students.  Each day, I’ve shared unit plans, mini-lesson ideas, mentor text ideas, and professional resources worth contemplating.  I’ve also started conversations about equity.  Join us if you haven’t, and let me know how I…

Schools have become increasingly skilled at gathering data about learners–particularly quantitative data in the form of standardized and local test scores. But these data often fail to communicate the most essential information that teachers need in order to serve students well. These data help us develop hunches about what students struggle with. They don’t really help us understand why, though. This is why story matters. More than tools to engage listeners, story teaches all of us…

This post is my fifth and last in a series about organizational story writing.  In the first post, I described the form and spoke about why organizational story writing matters.  In the second post, I shared my approach for facilitating a listening session.  The third post defined story writing as more than a mere marketing tool. It’s a process that leads to individual growth and organizational improvement.  The fourth post focused on the importance of…

This post is the fourth in a series on organizational story writing: The first post defined why organizational story writing matters. The second included the interest survey and listening session protocol that I use with new clients during the pre-writing phase of the work. My third post framed story writing as a learning opportunity that can inspire improved leadership and organizational growth.  Each of these posts includes links out to other helpful resources and tools…

This post is the third in my organizational story writing series. In the first post, I defined the form and shared ten reasons why organizational story writing matters.  Then, I introduced a current client, Jackie James Creedon, in my second post. Here, I included the interest survey that I ask most clients to complete ahead of our work as well as the approach and tools that I use when conducting my initial listening session. These first meetings…

More and more often, I’m invited to work not only with school districts, but with other organizations that are interested in telling their stories. Stories matter. They center us. They propel us forward. They change the trajectories of our work and our lives and the lives of the people we serve. They’re bigger than branding, and they’re far more than marketing tools. That’s why it’s important to value the story writing process as much as…

This spring, I had the opportunity to work with teachers from southern Erie and Cattaraugus Counties. Our initial sessions challenged teachers to define writers’ craft, the process, and the values and habits of masterful writers. Then, we considered how the progression of these skills and dispositions builds and evolves as experience is gained. Teachers returned to their classrooms with new ideas to consider and test. As I prepared to see them again last week, I hoped that…

On Friday, I’ll be working with students in the D’Youville School of Pharmacy, who are just beginning to develop habits of documentation, reflection, and qualitative data analysis. The document below will guide our initial conversations. I thought I would share it here, as it provides a quick introduction for those who are doing similar work in a variety of contexts, including K-12 classrooms. The questions and tools below will support our initial conversations. You can grab…

Interviews provide some of the best data we can gather about learners and learning, but planning and executing a high quality interview is often challenging. Whether interviews happen during writing conferences, at the end of unit of mathematics study, or on the heels of a lab experience, I find it important to consider four different elements: Structure, purpose, those questions that elicit helpful responses, and those questions that can deepen the respondent’s thinking. I recently shared…

Teachers analyze different kinds of evidence in order to construct hunches that help them serve learners well. Clear answers are rare, but if we pay attention, we know when we’re getting closer to understanding the challenges learners face and better at designing solutions. The questions we ask often make all of the difference. Traditional research processes often begin with the identification of driving questions. Intended to focus our work, driving questions can help us define powerful pathways through the research…