Taking a Seat

I receive a wonderful e-newsletter every week or so from Choice Literacy, a literacy-focused group—folks who recognize the incredible value of building school-wide literacy skills and strategies. The Big Fresh Newsletter is created by Brenda Powers.  Check out their website at http://www.choiceliteracy.com/   You too can subscribe to the newsletter. 

The concept of LITERACY goes well beyond the actual teaching of reading. It touches every subject area, including the arts. It involves the identification and instruction of the varied skills it might take for one to become a fully-educated and high-functioning adult–one who knows how to learn, who has developed a significant base of understanding of the concepts necessary to reading, writing, and talking about our modern world. I have a strong background in literacy—both in the realm of ELA, but also in literacy-building in math, social studies, and science instruction. I used to co-facilitate a course for Penn Literacy Network that modeled ways to integrate ELA and science instruction. These skills certainly improved my science teaching. Because I was not a reading teacher, I never chose to be a paying member of Choice Literacy. However, I have gotten a great deal over the past few years from reading through the introduction to every issue and to checking out the entries in the “Free for All” section.

The message behind this latest introductory piece struck me as important in the journey ahead—in my need and desire to form meaningful, practical, functional, and successful relationships with my colleagues at DSEA and with local leaders, as well as with our various members across the state.

 Take a Seat   

Eighty percent of success is showing up.   ~Woody Allen

My friend Arthur was talking about meditation. He’s one of the most peaceful and calming people I know so it surprised me when he said, “Some days my mind is all over the place when I sit down to meditate.” He continued, “What is important for me each morning is just taking a seat.”

It reminded me of working with first-year teacher Erin. She’d had a very chaotic start to the year. One day I’d planned to take two hours to help her launch a science unit. When I arrived at her classroom, we realized she’d forgotten about needing to give an assessment and it was March 14: Pi Day. A volunteer had brought two apple pies.

I scrounged around the school until I found thirty plastic forks, and I folded paper towels into fourths for makeshift napkins. I cut each pie into 15 semi-equal pieces, and I started scoring the assessments she’d just given as soon as students handed them in. In other words, I took a seat.  Somehow through that experience, Erinstarted trusting me and our collaboration deepened. We got more out of the next few weeks of work than any time in the past. Why? Perhaps because I cut pie, which was nowhere in my plans (or hers), but it was what she needed most at that moment. When in doubt about how to help your colleagues, take a deep breath. And take a seat.

From Heather Rader / Senior Editor, Choice Literacy

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy

Issue #246/August 27, 2011

So, my take-aways from this include:

  • it is not all about me.
  • timing is important.
  • as always, in any school situation, flexibility and patience are valuable qualities.
  • folks value one’s resourcefulness, initiative, and readiness to do the dirty work.
  • trust and reliability are prerequisites to productive, on-going relationships.

Hmmm,… I certainly appreciate this little but not inconsequential reminder.

Step up; take a seat; dig in; assess what needs attention; be ready to change your own focus and plans; be there to provide assistance during the tough times; take a deep breath; and always know how to cadge a few plastic forks—or any other necessaries!

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This entry was posted in A Good Education, Literacy, New Teachers, Professional Development, Quality Teachers/Quality Teaching, Teacher Reading, Teacher Unions. Bookmark the permalink.

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