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teacher-writers build bridges

Last week I was able to participate on a panel at the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) annual meeting. I was the discussant on a panel, “What Writing Can Do for Teachers: Beyond Pedagogy and Professionalism.” Below the fold is my response, “Teacher-Writers Building Bridges.” For those of you who might not know, a discussant aims to synthesize the individual papers and to frame a conversation for the panel and audience. I hope I was able to do both, because the research shared was insightful and helpful in a wide range of ways, which I tried to capture in my remarks below. Many thanks to my colleagues on this panel, and thanks too for those teachers, scholars, librarians, and administrators who were in the room and participated in the conversation. [Read more…]

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educators’ voices: some responses to sandy hook

In “Our Stories Matter Because We Matter: Thoughts on the Power of Our Voices” Brene Brown writes, “The truth is that in the midst of tragedy nothing matters more than our stories. Our complex, nuanced stories are the path to healing and change. They are the truth and there’s no better foundation for change than the truth.” It’s in this spirit of sharing stories, of sharing our reflections and responses, that I offer a quick round-up of educators’ thoughts and voices on last Friday’s events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. [Read more…]

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“reading” the classroom: silence

It’s fair to say that in my work as a teacher educator I want to help beginning teachers develop their repertoire of teaching strategies; however, I think one of the central aims in my work is to help beginning teachers develop their professional judgment in order to use those strategies wisely. More simply, I want to help beginning teachers “read” the classroom so they can use their own judgment to consider what they might do next. [Read more…]

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nwp annual meeting & ncte annual convention ’12 in las vegas: a roundup of reflections

This year’s convention for the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) was held in Las Vegas. Below is a roundup of some blog posts from educators who attended the conference. I’ll add more as I run across them. [Read more…]

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learning together in cultural institutions: opening up museums

“I want to share with you today the passion of my professional work, which is about opening up museums,” begins Nina Simon, “turning them into places that are not just places where people come to visit, but where you can actively participate, where you can connect with culture, and hopefully through those experiences connect more deeply with each other.”

Thank you to Christina Cantrill for linking to this talk in her slice of Twitter. There is a lot to take in from this 15 minute talk by Nina Simon, the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and author of The Participatory Museum. Simon sketches out some of her key points in her blog post “Opening Up Musuems: My TedX Santa Cruz Talk.”

As I listen to and think about Simon’s ideas, I can’t help but think of what it might mean for young people, educators, schools, and communities. Simon’s ideas include thinking of a museum as a place of active participation in which museum directors design invitations that encourage people to interact with the artifacts and with one another. That is, she sees the artifacts in her museum space as objects that mediate relationships, as reasons and opportunities for people to talk, to collaborate, to share. In this way, the museum space is a community space. It’s a place that can facilitate change outside the walls of the museum because of how people participate inside those walls. That’s her hope, intention, and working theory.

I believe young people, educators, and communities want schools to be places where people do not just visit, but where they actively participate. To me, this requires seeing schools as places where students AND educators learn. It requires educators to share how and why they participate with artifacts and through the practices they do in their disciplines AND for young people to also share how and why they participate with the artifacts and through practices they do in their various communities. It suggests that schools must also “open up” and participate in the local community.

I wonder how schools might design the kind of invitations Simon does in her museums, invitations that suggest participating is important and valued. I wonder how young people might see themselves as “creative agents” too. I wonder how educators might position the artifacts of disciplines (e.g., primary documents and texts) as objects to mediate “big” conversations about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.

I wonder what “opening up” might do for the relationships between young people and educators in the various communities in which they find themselves in – disciplinary communities, school communities, local communities. It seems to be a promising concept and a hopeful practice.