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Posts from the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Teaching is Not a Normal Job (Guest Post)

By Barry Lane

I met this guy at the Newark airport years ago. I remember feeling both puzzled and offended by his tee-shirt. Puzzled, because I have never really understood the purpose of retirement and offended, because he appeared to know and was taunting me. I approached him and asked for a photo of his shirt and then I confided in him my bewilderment.

“I don’t really understand what it means to be retired,” I asked with great earnestness.

“What do you do when you are retired?”

He paused a moment and then looked me right in the eye and said,

“I do whatever I want to do, don’t I?”

Yes, of course, that’s it. That’s retirement, and by this definition I have been retired for years now, along with the thousands of dedicated teachers I have met over the years at reading association meetings, like KSRA. There is no other place they want to be, but in the classroom. These are not normal people who work a boring job and relax on the weekends with their family. They are not extrinsically motivated by money or vacations or golden parachutes, (though all bets are off when free picture books are in the equation) . Many work in a profession for far less material reward then they could be getting in other less meaningful jobs. But they have this spark in their eyes and a passion for learning and children that is undeniable. To say they love their job would be an understatement. They don’t even see it as a job. They see it a calling. They see it as a life.

Barry Lane 1

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Quarterbacks, writers, and resisters: Fostering a growth mindset in the writing workshop (Guest Post)

by Mark Overmeyer

Living in Denver means Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is on the front page of the paper more often than anyone else. One story that emerged this summer is about Manning’s work ethic – what teachers would undoubtedly call a “growth mindset.” Manning spends time every year with his former college football coach. He isn’t there to visit, but to learn. Manning says his college coach knows more about his throw than anyone else in his life, so he needs his advice in order to improve. Peyton Manning makes millions of dollars a year, but he knows he is never “done”:  he understands the importance of feedback from someone who knows him well.

I often shy away from sports metaphors when thinking of effective instruction, but Manning’s story is a perfect fit with our work as teachers of writing. Manning’s coach knows him best. More than any other subject we teach, writing helps us to know our students in the same way Manning’s coach knows him.  Read more

Support Diversity and Encourage Young Writers by Using Window and Mirror Books in Your Writing Workshop (Guest Post)

by Stacey Shubitz, September’s Guest Blogger

A powerful way for teachers to embrace diversity is through the careful selection of mentor texts. All students deserve to read mirror books, in which they can see themselves, and window books, in which they can learn about others.  This means teachers must have books that represent a variety of religions, races, and sexual orientations on classroom bookshelves during all months of the year, not just the ones with special designations (e.g., Black History Month, Women’s History Month).

Children need exposure to books that mirror their life experiences.  Classrooms with minority students need books with minority protagonists.  Children with same-sex parents need opportunities to access books with other children who are navigating the world with a family that looks different than the “mom, dad, 2.2 kids, dog, and white picket fence” scenario most books often show.  When children see their lives mirrored in books, it allows them to feel safe, thereby giving them permission to write freely about their own lives in the texts they compose.  Read more