Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Inspiration #1

It's been a rather interesting few weeks in my world.  The weather in my glorious City by the Bay has been unusually warm- in fact, it's even supposed to hit close to 80 degrees today!  That's unheard of in San Francisco, especially in April.  I now find myself asking, what happened to this massive El Niño we were supposed to endure? Usually, I would rejoice the warm temperatures, rise early, throw on my finest spandex, hop on my trusty road bike, and start pedaling toward the Golden Gate.  Alas, that is not the case today.  On March 29th, three weeks ago now, I underwent hip surgery to repair a few things (I'll spare you the vivid details).  The surgery went really well, and I am now in rest and recovery mode- much of the rest and recovery finds me in an immobile state to aid in the healing process. Needless to say, I am trying to enjoy the weather inside my Marina District apartment with all the windows open from my couch. Much to my surprise, being stuck on the couch for a few weeks has brought me an incredible amount of inspiration. I have been given the gift of time to read, write, Tweet, and engage in thought provoking and continually inspiring discussions around literacy education with my trusted and exceptionally wise think tank group- my dear #G2Great Voxer cousins (more on that here). 

A particular conversation on Voxer grabbed my attention this morning.  My rather thoughtful friend, Jenn Hayhurst, said a simple phrase in conversation with another wise friend, JoAnne Duncan, that set off a bright lightbulb inside of me: "Unlocking each other's potential."  When we engage in deep conversations about education and put our thoughts out in the world for all to see in our blogs, we are truly unlocking each other's potential as educators.  When we do this over and over again, we are slowly, but surely, improving the state of education in our world. Our students are the heart of education- as teachers, we're the doctors who make sure those hearts are continually beating and singing.  As teachers, we must find a way to lift each other up, challenge each other's beliefs and practice, and encourage each other to take risks and thrive!  

One way to do this is to engage in honest and sometimes difficult conversations in person at school.  Another way is to attend education conferences to hear from experts in the field.  However, my favorite (and perhaps the easiest and most cost effective) way is to follow the blogs of those educators who inspire us. 

So, without further introduction, may I present my very first Monday Inspiration.  Every Monday moving forward, I'm going to highlight blogs from other educators that bring me a continual flow of inspiration.  For Monday Inspiration #1, I am thrilled to share the blogs of some of those forward-thinking educators in my think tank group, my dear #G2Great friends. 

Burkins & Yaris
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris are the literacy education leaders behind Burkins and Yaris.  They openly share their insights and know-how regarding the teaching of reading.  Some of their current posts include must-reads titled Scaffolding vs. Carrying, Some Core Beliefs Behind Who's Doing the Work? (their just released book!), and Yank and Pull- Is There an Easier Way?   Following Jan and Kim's blog will not only enhance your thinking as a teacher of reading, but also it will potentially change your practice for the better. It has definitely done these two things for me!  In addition, they have challenged my thinking as a teacher in such a positive way.  I now find myself constantly asking questions about how I scaffold student thinking- and if I should even be scaffolding it at all at times. Have I yet mentioned that I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new book, Who's Doing the Work: How to Say Less so Readers Can Do More.

Literacy Lenses
Literacy Lenses is the brainchild of four educators working in the field in different capacities: Dr. Mary Howard, literacy consultant and author, Jenn Hayhurst, elementary literacy coach, Jill DeRosa, third grade classroom teacher, and Amy Brennan, Director of Elementary Education in her school district.  Their blog highlights each week's #G2Great (Good to Great) twitter chat- every Thursday, 5:30 Pacific/8:30 Eastern.  While I do love Twitter as a professional development tool, I completely recognize that it really isn't for everyone.  It can be extremely overwhelming and time consuming. Literacy Lenses is a gift in this regard- it summarizes the important ideas from the most forward thinking chat around literacy education that takes place each week. Whether or not you partake in this fabulous chat, you should definitely follow Literacy Lenses if you'd like to stay current in issues relating to literacy education.  

Simply Inspired Teaching
My dear friend, and someone I consider a great mentor in the world of literacy education, Kari Yates, is the force behind the blog Simply Inspired Teaching. Kari's words have driven me in my classroom as a teacher, lifted me up in tough times as a literacy coach, and helped me power through a couple rough patches during my surgery recovery. Kari's blog truly addresses the heart and soul of teaching.  She takes tough and challenging ideas and then masterfully simplifies them to make them more accessible.  If you have time to read only one other blog post today, I highly encourage you to take in Kari's A Call to Courage.  In this particular post, Kari spoke to our duty as teachers to be courageous in today's changing state of education.  Simply put, Kari's words simply inspire me day after day.

Thank you to my dear colleagues behind Burkins & Yaris, Literacy Lenses, and Simply Inspired Teaching! Your choices and words bring me the much needed challenge and push to inspire my own work as both a literacy educator and writer every single day.

This concludes my first dose of Monday Inspiration. I'm looking forward to highlighting more sources that inspire next Monday. 

Enjoy the day, friends!   

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