Monday, October 29, 2012

Raising Baby Birds

Photo by Arno & Louise Wildlife-Flickr
I have a love-hate relationship with Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.  Like a baby bird, I sit there in the nest with my mouth wide open, looking for energy, passion, ideas, and inspiration from Mama Bird, worm by worm.  The conversations, workshops and staff developers feed me, nourish me, fill me.  I see a staff developer on the street, and like a celebrity, point them out to colleagues.  They don't know me, but I know them.  I've read their books, their tweets, their blogs, and listened to their words in workshops-  learning, applying, sharing.  They fly off to get more information and knowledge, and I sit, waiting for their insight.  They're my Mama Birds.

But, I also walk away feeling somewhat frustrated.  I don't want to just sit and wait for more. I want to explore, too. I want to fly out of the nest and find the worms on my own.    I sometimes walk away from TC realizing how far we still have to go to implement change.  I can't jump out of the nest yet, because the fall is so far.  So far.  I talk to the staff developers about our situation and they shake their heads.   Core novels?  Only 40 minutes of literacy instruction... TOTAL?  How many teachers?  they ask.  We're so far behind, and it's all a bit overwhelming...  it feels hard to spread our wings.

So try as I might, I begin the journey.  Step by step, worm by worm, I will do what I can to feed the soul of the district.  Dr. Tony Wagner, author of Creating Innovators, says, "Schools need reinvention, not reform."  Amen.  And, he says "Critical thinking is the ability to ask really good questions."  So, I need to figure out what questions, really, really good ones, to ask that will help to reinvent our teaching and learning... it's critical.

I have an iPad filled with worms (Well, not literally. I was going for the extended metaphor here, but I just realized that I may have crossed over into creepiness).  Over the next few days, I'll try to put them into logical words to share.  Here are the topics that I've been exploring at the TCRWP Coaching Institute and TCRWP Saturday Reunion that have nourished me so far this week.  I'm hoping that Hurricane Sandy doesn't keep me from TC, because the love outweighs the frustration, and my mouth is wide open waiting for more, before I'm ready to fly.  

Some future posts that I'm drafting:

  • Using the new writing continuum and checklists to help students and teachers self-assess and lift the level of student writing 
  • Planning and implementing informational and opinion/argumentative units that will engage students and teach habits of mind
  • Writing about reading to raise the level of comprehension 
  • Creating study groups that nurture relationships and enhance learning communities in our schools
Check back soon for more ;)  


  1. I feel the same way! It's been so frustrating not having school this week because I have so many ideas to share with my colleagues. On the other hand, I've had time to process and type out my notes from all the informative sessions I attended last Saturday. I look forward to reading about your progress!

    1. Thanks! I'd love to hear your thoughts, too! So many amazing ideas are out there to share!

  2. Sarah, It is so great to find a fellow TCRWP enthusiast. I was also at the coaching institute and reunion. I can't believe we haven't run into each other. Then again I am sure we have ....I will never forget my first reunion in April 2003, Donald Graves was the keynote speaker, my teaching life would never be the same...I have felt the same way throughout the years in trying to move the work forward in my school, and we're still on that journey, but we've come a long way. This year is our first year as an affiliate school and we'll be working with Colleen Cruz at 3-5. It takes perseverance, but if you hold fast to your vision and rally others to the cause, you will move your school. Your blog looks great, I can't wait to see what you post. Would love to collaborate, if possible, on helping move the work forward in grades 6-8, this is one of the challenges in my school and as literacy coordinator, I am hoping to help these teachers see the value of investing in this approach. My blog is called, and my twitter handle is @rscalateach.

    1. Thanks! I did check out your blog--- looks great. Thanks for the follow on Twitter, too. I love connecting with educators all over to enhance our learning. I can't wait to hear about your experiences with Colleen Cruz- I've heard amazing things about her as a staff developer. I would love to work with you with 6-8th grade... Collaboration is key! Look forward to hearing from you again soon! :)