After another amazing week at TCRWP's Summer Reading Institute, my mind is on fire with new learning. I'll post the highlights over the next few weeks as I reflect on the "big ideas" that I captured in my notebook and discussed over dinner with my BUSD colleagues. Our first morning began in the beautiful Riverside Church. The pews bustled with educators excited and energized about the week ahead. Lucy began her keynote by emphasizing how fortunate we were to be participating in the institute: "We received over 8,000 applications from all over the world and 1,300 of you are here today. Welcome."
Lucy's call to action: "You need to teach 25 colleagues what you learn here, become a leader of school reform in reading, and lead through influence and resolve. Rally your colleagues. Dream that your school can become a most intensely alive learning community, a place where adults, as well as kids, learn. The important thing to think about each day is not what did you teach, but (rather), what did you learn today? Did you know that the American Library Association asked 12th-grade students who were ready to graduate if they planned to read a book voluntarily - and 80% said, "No." These are students who know how to read, but are choosing not to. (Our challenge) - How do we bring up a generation of kids who read?"
Learning in 2015: "Knowledge is doubling every thirteen months making it more important than ever to be able to read to learn. Tony Wagner's work brings to our attention the fact that teachers used to bring knowledge to the uninformed, while now we can Google information faster than we can retrieve information from our long term memory. The role of the teacher has changed to one of helping kids to access, organize, synthesize, analyze and apply knowledge. Today's standards reflect this change. None of us can opt out of the conditions that have given rise to these standards."
This work is not for the 'chickens': "We need to democratize this high-level instruction, ensuring it is available for all kids, not just the honors students. It is up to us to pull this off. When you are on fire with the teaching of reading, things will change. It will require vulnerability and openness to outgrow yourself as a teacher of reading. Brene Brown's Daring Greatly and Ted Talk speak of the importance of moving from a culture of blame & shame to one that values risk, the possibility of innovation and learning. David Rock worked with TCRWP and discussed the consequences of a fear-based culture: when you are afraid, you are less likely to be intuitive. You are literally stupid, and you have the tendency to "armor up", or disengage. 71% of Americans are disengaged from their jobs. Brene Brown says that the problem with our protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable (translates) to protecting ourselves from connectedness, authenticity, and deep engagement. We owe it to our kids to be fully present, "all in" in the work of teaching reading & writing well. You must be a lead learner in your school. Fail early, fail often - embrace the F word. If you are not failing, you are not aiming high enough."
New Reading Units of Study: "Today is their birthday (applause). I hope that you will join study groups to help each other get to know these units. Participate in the reading work we are asking our kids to do - read, pause & think, wonder, question. The TCRWP staff meets every Thursday in study groups. I encourage you to lead a group at your school on a topic where you feel vulnerable. Leadership from a position of vulnerability can be exquisite. You will be dazzled by the learning you will gain from your colleagues. When you are in a study group as a listener, your brain is really fired up. You will find experts in your school. You will explore topics and get to the best practices that your school believes in. Open up your classrooms to showcase this learning. This is the moment to rally your colleagues around the goal of creating a learning community that is open to risk-taking, vulnerability, authenticity, wholeheartedness, and deep connections. Create a contagious energy for learning."
"What lessons about teaching reading have you learned from your life experiences? Go out and be star-gazers, rock hounds, and trailblazers. You will get metaphors and messages to bring to your teaching. That little light of yours needs to shine, to learn about learning, to be open and vulnerable. Know what it feels like to be 'on fire'. Take that light and pass it on. Let it shine all the time."