The Importance of Story and Deep Listening

As a teacher and as an instructional coach, I’ve tried to improve my listening skills. It is such a gift when one feels deeply listened to and I strive to provide this for others. Deep listening continues to be a goal for me. I have always been intrigued by the power of telling stories. In classrooms making space for, and deeply listening to students’ stories, insight, and feedback is critical. In this blog I want to highlight some of the ideas in Chapter 4 of Street Data as they relate to listening. Continue reading “The Importance of Story and Deep Listening”

Empower Students by Cultivating Agency

My fourth article was published last week!

Empowering Students by Cultivating Agency

Thank you to all of you who have taken time to read the article and provide feedback. If you want to comment on the article you can do so here on my personal blog… or find the article on Twitter (Twitter Link).

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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Coaching Partnership Tools: Part II

In my previous post, I described several of my “go to” tools for planning and reflecting on coaching conversations. In this post, I want to share two of the language tools I use in partnership meetings. When I focus on language, I can ask more precise questions and model how intention to language is important when we work with students and colleagues. The more precise we are with language, the more impact our language can have!

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Coaching Partnership Tools: Part I

As I engage in mid-year reflection on my goals as an instructional coach, I would like to share some of the tools I use to plan and engage in coaching meetings. I call these coaching meetings “partnership meetings” because both my colleague and I are learning together. It is my job, as a coach, to reflect on, and plan for the conversations. Intentional planning focuses on ensuring that conversations focus on my colleague’s goals and priorities, while centering students, especially our formerly marginalized students. In this post, and an upcoming part two, I want to summarize some useful coaching tools. Continue reading “Coaching Partnership Tools: Part I”

Joint Construction

Joint Construction is a critical component of the writing curriculum, as it nurtures a writing community and it models negotiating writing moves. In this post, I want to describe what Joint Construction is and give some tips for negotiating the writing of texts with students.

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Tools for Calling In to Conversations About Race

A colleague recently said to me, “We know we are doing important equity work if people are asking lots of questions, when people are getting uncomfortable.” Like many, I like to refer to the conversations we have as Healing or Courageous Conversations rather than Hard Conversations. In a recent email, Elena Aguilar called these simply “Conversations About Race.” Aguilar writes, “Even if they’re uncomfortable or complicated, these conversations can bring relief, closure, and closeness.” I think that Hard Conversations are about me, while Healing and Courageous focus on the purpose which is to address racist actions, biases, and microaggressions. The purpose is to be an advocate for marginalized groups and to plant seeds of awareness, reflection, and potentially transformation for those who intentionally or unintentionally cause harm. The purpose, in education, is to continually ask “How Are the Children?” In this post, I want to share two tools to help engage in Conversations About Race.

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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!