Notable notes is my attempt to curate my social media feeds and recognize some of the most notable ideas and resources to flow across my consciousness this week.
My first note comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Starr Sackstein, who writes “What a Good Coach Looks Like…” This is such a good topic for any teacher to reflect upon, but especially important for teachers of writers. I know that so much of my job is not about teaching, but rather coaching. Sackstein really hits on one of the most important elements so many teachers or coaches forget – it is about relationships. You can know your sport or content area, but if you do not know your player/student/writer then you cannot target your instruction or coaching to that unique person’s needs. Successful teaching can never be a one-size-fits-all proposition and this holds doubly true for coaching writers. Of course, this holds equally true for true writing workshop and peer review to work effectively – students can help and support each other, but they need to become a community before effective coaching can take place.
My second note also comes from Starr Sackstein’s blog, but was a guest post by Beth Graham about that teaching nemesis: grading. In “An Administrator’s Perspective on Teachers Throwing Out Grades,” Graham writes from her own experience as a non-A student (a story that really resonated with me as I often did not “get” the content in time to earn an “A” on the test) as well as an educator and more specifically an administrator. This is such an important conversation to have and to continue to have as our current national obsession with testing is doing nothing to help, hindering rather than helping, our students learn. This is an education problem and a society problem. We are a country obsessed with grades and goals and accomplishments and we do not spend enough time focusing on the learning and the progress made. We should celebrate our mistakes and the lessons they teach more than the easy successes.
My third note is an important reminder for all educators and echoes the themes of the first two notes. In “Mentors Come In All Shapes and Sizes” on the National Writing Project Digital Is web site, Writing For Change describes how good coaching or good mentors can help educators move outside their comfort zone. I believe strongly in the power of a good personal learning network and cannot stress enough the importance of a PLN for your growth as an educator and person as well as the benefits for your students.
My final note shares another NWP Digital Is piece, this one from Kimberly Hoffman Kanof, as well as one of my own top blog posts from the past week. Both pieces focus on the important issue of writing feedback and grading writing. Kanof writes in “From Guilt to Google: Experimenting with Tech Tools to Improve Writing Feedback” how Google tools can support the writing process and facilitate the feedback process. I really like her solutions which could really ease the feedback burden and I thought it paired well with my blog post “Grading Using Google Forms.”
I hope you will share some of the notable notes that recently floated across your Twitter stream or blog.