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Professional Development

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I’m an instructional designer and an independent education consultant, as most of you know. In that latter role, I am typically hired to facilitate opportunity chasing and problem solving. I usually work with K-16 writing teachers who tend to be a highly creative bunch, and it’s rare that I don’t find myself learning more than I teach inside of any situation that finds me in rooms with these people. I get to have a lot…

“I just ordered my first box of those weird under eye gel patch thingies that everyone from Rachel Hollis to Oprah to Brene Brown seems to be sporting on social lately,” I laughed, leaning away from the screen. “I mean, if Brene uses them, they have to be good, right?” “Do they sell them in extra-strength Covid-size?” my friend asked. “There is no eye gel patch thingy made for this moment,” I admitted. “But buying…

An important note, ahead of today’s post: There are different kinds of writing workshop teachers, in my experience: Those who are wanting a clearer path, those who are walking one (often in very good company), and those whose rich and varied experiences have called them to wander a bit, even as they carve a careful course for their students. And in an ideal world, with their students.  Those are the workshop teachers whose wisdom inspires…

I’ve spent this entire week traveling all over Alberta, Canada. I’ve worked with primary and intermediate level teachers, and I’ve worked with middle and high school teachers. I’ve worked with English and Science and Social Studies teachers. I’ve worked with French teachers. I’ve worked with Math teachers. And I’ve also worked with ELL teachers. They support the Hutterites who live in their communities. Those children were born and raised in Canada. German is their first…

This photo was taken last fall, as I led a week-long lesson study on argument writing at the middle level. It’s interesting: Many teachers tell me that narrative is difficult to teach, but personally, argument writing has inspired a great deal of my own growth over the last 25 years. Doesn’t that sound sweet and super positive? Yes. Argument writing has been an inspiring teacher. But y’all, you KNOW how that growth happens. It…

Two weeks ago, I invited writing teachers far and wide to share their biggest workshop dilemmas with me! Okay, if I’m being honest, I asked a bunch of people who recently read Make Writing to share their biggest workshop dilemmas with me. BUT! They did not disappoint! I also think that their responses will leave some of you nodding your weary heads. “My mini-lessons go too long,” many told me. “My feedback is mess,”…

This year found me recommitting to the work of daily documentation as a writer, a writing teacher, and a professional learning facilitator. This was a challenging and even overwhelming endeavor at times, but so very much worth the effort that I made. In fact, this project was so rewarding that I’ve already created new intentions for my documentation practice in 2019. These were my greatest moments of professional learning, and I wonder: If you were…

October found me in classrooms in and around New York State, facilitating lesson studies for writing teachers at the elementary and middle levels. This is some of the most rewarding work that I do, because the learning that happens is the result of studying kids and teachers at work together. Everyone is a learner in the context of lesson study, and this makes a difference. Whenever I lead lesson studies, my intention is to design…

“I develop theories based on lived experiences, not existing theories.” Dr. Brene Brown Traditional researchers and documentarians deepen their learning by exploring the theories shared by the giants who came before them. They study professional literature, seeking best practices that they might test in order to meet their students’ needs. Then, they confirm or deny their viability. Often, the results are anything but unexpected. Grounded theory is different.  When teachers position themselves as grounded…

My interest in documentation began well over a decade ago, at the height of the standardized testing mess that so many teachers were talking about and in response to my own failures as a teacher of writing. At the time, numbers seemed to mean everything, and many of the people that I respected most in the field were suggesting that it didn’t have to be that way. I remember when Jenn first asked the question,…