Lessons While Traveling

Over Spring Break, I flew to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit one of my sons, Jack, who is spending this semester at the University of Edinburgh. My sister, Colleen, joined me after flying in from her home in Oklahoma. Scotland exceeded my high expectations and traveling reminded me of some important life lessons. In this post, I want to share some of those lessons and how they connect to teaching.

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What’s Most Important?

As I review the posts from the past year, I see two major themes: language/voice and equity/justice. I am grateful for having had the time to reflect, synthesize, and write throughout the year; and I appreciate all my readers out there! Today I want to focus on the theme of language/voice as I believe that when we give space for students to share their experiences, their ideas, and their genius, we are working towards equity and justice.

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Student Agency, Feedback, and Voice

Last year, I wrote about Pedagogy of Voice, as described in Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation. This weekend I am rereading the Pedagogy of Voice chapter: Redefine “Success” and striving to go deeper into the content. In this post, I want to share some of the passages that are standing out the most, and why.

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Making Space for Student Feedback and Voice


“My job as a teacher is not to teach the curriculum or even to just teach the students; it is to seek to understand my kids as completely as possible so that I can purposefully bend curriculum to meet them.” – C. Minor

“Creating a collaborative culture is the single most important factor in school improvement for those seeking to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning.” – R. DuFour and B. DuFour

The quotes above are on my mind as I celebrate the publication of my second piece, Making Space for Students in PLCs. The processes I describe in the article are built off what we learned from our students and what we learned together as collaborative teams of inquiry.

As always, I look forward to feedback as you read the article!

The Four Pivots, Part One

The purpose of my writing this blog over time is to synthesize my own learning and to share my learning with others. As I write today, I’m returning to my purpose because I know how important it is to remind myself of my why, especially since today is the day I’ve added a “Subscription” feature to my webpage! I’m extremely excited about the privilege and opportunity to share my writing in a more systematic way with my readers.

In this post, I want to begin a synthesis of The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves, by Shawn Ginwright, PhD. This will be the first in a four part series, each part comprising one of Ginwright’s pivots. As I read the book, I was inspired by the connection between self work and social justice work. The focus on Belonging also stood out to me because it is one of my Core Values and because we know that in order for learning and healing to occur, we need Belonging. Reading the book, I had many take-aways for myself, my leadership moves, and my teaching. I highly recommend reading the text and know many educational leaders and learners will be embracing it over the years to come!

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Focus Students and Process Observers

In previous posts I have written about the importance of having Process Observers to provide feedback on meeting processes. In addition, I have written about improving one’s practice by observing and listening to ideas from a Focus Student. In this post, I want to consider how using the Process Observer ideas around language, tone-of-voice, and body language can support deeper learning fromĀ  (and in service to) Focus Students.

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Why is Growing Both Personally and Professional So Important?

Recently I was introduced to the visual below and used it to engage in discussions at my school to strengthen our role of Process Observer at Professional Learning Communities (PLCs):

In the past our Process Observers and teams focused on asset-based language at PLCs, and we are now shifting to also focus on all elements of communication, especially in connection to each team’s Working Agreements and in our classroom climate. In this post, I want to connect the multiple ways of communication with the stories we tell/the lenses through which we interpret situations. I will connect this to the work of Jennifer Abrams and the idea of Cognitive Appraisal.

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The Rights of Our Geniuses

I had the privilege of reading Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success, by Christopher Emdin, over winter break. I highly recommend the book for any educator! As people who work with, and care passionately about the young geniuses with whom we work, it is imperative to learn about ourselves and about how we show up in the classroom. Our students know best what will work for them, and we start with honoring who they are from the moment we begin building relationships with them.

“Being an educator is as much about learning as it is about teaching. Those who teach, especially those who teach with a full understanding of the privilege of teaching – and what it means for who they will become in the world – end up transforming our society and empowering the next generation.” ~ Christopher Emdin


In this post, I want to summarize one of the last points that Emdin makes in this powerful text: the seven rights that are “at the essence of teaching and learning.”

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Experiencing Success + Belonging = Thriving

Anyone who knows me or follows my blog knows that Belonging is one of my core values. It is my goal that every student in my school feels a sense of belonging, based on how they define belonging. In this post, I want to synthesize Elena Aguilar’s definition of Equity with the model Dr. Amante-Jackson uses to highlight the importance of Belonging.

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The Power of a Process Observer

I have to admit I was initially afraid to use Process Observers to give feedback on meetings. I read about the Process Observer (PO) role in Elena Aguilar’s The Art of Coaching Teams and was intrigued. However I had never participated in a meeting where a person was designated or trained as a PO. Fortunately a colleague modeled the process for me in a meeting we co-facilitated. I immediately saw the benefit for team growth. In today’s post I will summarize some of what I’ve learned and tried with the PO role.

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