I have a confession to make. I have read very little fiction in the last nine years. About nine years ago, I had my son, and around that same time, I started to feel guilty for reading fiction. I still continued to read at that same pace, except they all had an education focus. Somewhere in my own head, I convinced myself that reading anything but work focused books was not a good use of my time.
I have started to push back on my thinking. I know I need to read fiction to build my empathy skills. I also believe that I should read more fiction because I enjoyed it in the past without guilt.
I think of our students who may avoid a particular genre because they were told that they should read “real books.” I know my son was told he needs to read something besides graphic novels. I helped him pushed back this summer and found several graphic novels for him to enjoy. I also pushed back on my own thinking and have grabbed a couple of fiction books for me. This summer, my son and I will rediscover our joy of reading what we want and for pleasure. I think we are on the right track both of us were up late reading last night.
We both are open to book recommendations.
I wrote a previous post about norms. I really feel like my views have shifted even more. If you have been with on any PLC or anywhere near education, we always want to talk about norms. Many of these norms include phrases such as arrive on time, leave on time. Unfortunately, I have come to realize that they do not focus on what we really need is to describe how we will collaborate. Often times, we all are in the same room, play our role, but don’t really work together. I think we need to dig deeper for more meaningful norms.
One tool I came across this school year was the seven collaborative norms. These are from Thinking Collaborative and have been around for quite some time. What I really like about these norms is they describe what it looks and sounds likes to be collaborating.
One of my favorite ways I used this tool was with a group of instructional coaches. Each one had recorded a coaching interaction with a teacher or a group of teachers. As we watched the video, we recorded on sticky notes when the coach said or did something that moved the conversation forward. Once done, in partners, they categorized their evidence into the seven collaborative norms. As a group, we talked about the strengths of the interaction and opportunities for growth. This worked well on several levels. Instructional coaches learned new moves or phrases to add to their repertoire by watching their peers. The coach saw their own coaching from an outsider looking in as well as receiving group feedback from the team.
I have also used this tool as a form of self-reflection. I often choose one to focus on when I enter a meeting. In small group meetings, I work on pausing because I know that I get really excited and end up interrupting. In larger groups, I tend to get silent, so I focus on putting ideas on the table.
As you reflect on your year if your norms did not make the group more productive, consider taking a look at the seven collaborative norms to help define what the work should look like.
Dear Readers, I have missed you. I know it’s been awhile since I wrote. I know I have struggled at times with writing. You can read about it here, here or maybe even here.
Over the past few weeks, I have come to realize that I am really the sum of my habits. The habits may be small but done repeatedly, they have a significant impact. For example, three years ago, I started exercising. I have committed to exercising three times a week. The small habit that has allowed me to get the gym is spending a few minutes on Sunday plotting when I am going to the gym. Once those days are set, I commit to showing up, the length and effort may not be as strong as I would like, but I am there. The result of this habit is that I can do more in the gym. I can run farther, faster; lift more, and jump higher.
On a recent episode of Teacher’s Aid, Jon Harper interviewed James Clear which he discussed an example of a person who went to the gym at the beginning for only five minutes and left to develop the habit of going to the gym. He said, “Habits have to exist before they can be optimized.” This made me think about my writing habit or lack thereof. I don’t write daily or even weekly. I have been struggling to write because I am not showing up. I realized that step one is to write 100 words daily. I am not going to agonize about the content or quality at the beginning. I am going to focus on the habit of sitting down at the computer and writing. When I shared my idea with a friend, he really put it into perspective. It’s 700 words a week and over 36,000 words a year. For me, I will write more than I have since I started this blog. I also am visually tracking on the productive app, so I can see how I am staying on track.
I tell you my own story of creating a habit because I realize that we start with small practices done daily are more powerful than a big push once. We can’t expect our classroom management to change by doing one big thing one time. Our classroom management changes one small habit done daily. It’s about showing up day in and day out that leads to long-lasting change. We need to spend the time talking to our students about this idea as well. So dear reader, enjoy this journey with me as I show up daily to write.