Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Power of Connecting with Like Minded Professionals

Anyone reading this blog that I have actually met in person probably knows that I often talk about the people that have inspired me via twitter. One of them is Aviva Dunsiger, @grade1.  Over the past few months she and I have shared a fair bit in the private back channels of twitter.  She has pushed my learning to places I hadn't even considered and I know because of her I am a better teacher.

Yesterday she wrote a blog post entitled Students Can Decide which, as usual, got me thinking.  After running around all day I managed to finally add a comment to her post last night.  But when I look back at the comment I wrote, it's more of a mini blog post.  I love how Aviva does that to me.  Here's what I had to say.

Aviva, I used to be the teacher that told my students what to do and when. I am no longer that teacher. For example during our first term together my students learned a variety of ways to practice word work. Over the course of a week I would rotate everyone through different stations. I spent the appropriate amount of time teaching them why/how to use the stations correctly and what type of learning I was looking for at each station. With the new year and the new term I no longer tell my students how to practice. They now choose and practice in a way that is most meaningful to them.
My students have choice with their reading, writing, and word work options. They often have choice with their math options too. I think our job as teachers is to give them a foundation but to encourage and support as they discover the world. I think sometimes when we make all the choices for them they fail to learn how to think for themselves.
As you are aware this has been quite a professional growth year for me. I’ve made a lot of changes with my teaching, including letting go of a lot, but I’m really pleased with the out come so far. My students are reading, writing, and doing math in ways that are meaningful to them. Obviously I am still around to guide, prompt, redirect, and encourage when necessary but for the most part they have taken a lot more control of their learning and I can’t ask for any more than that. It’s exciting times I tell you.
One thing I need to improve on is getting my students to vocalize their learning better. I am super impressed with what you’ve been doing with your students. Asking those important questions, and listening too. While I think I do this, I know I could do this a whole lot better. Yet another goal for me to add to my list.
Thanks for sharing your learning with me. I love the way you constantly push my thinking and make me critically analyze what I do with my students and why.

    • Karen, this is like a wonderful blog post of its own. I love how you’ve reflected here about the changes you’ve already made and changes you want to make. Dialoguing with you has helped me reflect on my teaching practices and make so many changes too. Thanks Karen!

While Aviva and I have never met in person she has most definitely been instrumental in pushing my learning this year.  I hope I am able to do the same for others.  It's powerful stuff I tell you.


  1. Karen, I'm so glad that you made this a blog post of your own! I love it! You've definitely pushed my thinking, especially when it comes to giving students the power to decide. I love what you do with your students in the classroom, and even though we've never met, you've definitely inspired me a lot. I hope that one day we can meet face-to-face.


    1. Thanks Aviva. I feel pretty confident that one day we WILL meet face to face. Twitter has been so incredible for me and my learning. I have to remind myself how much I have changed as an educator since joining the twitter movement in July 2011.