Writing floats on a sea of talk – to paraphrase James Britton. Such a great use of figurative language to describe the importance of letting students talk before they write, in a classroom filled with language and communication.
We all recognize that, but what we’ve found is that not only writing flourishes on a sea of talk: professional learning does too. When colleagues have the opportunity to talk together, to share successes, failures, strategies, and student work, they learn – from each other.
Now, what happens when that talking occurs within a school? It’s pretty elemental: as they talk, as they share their work products, their plans, and their strategies, what comes out of that discussion is the beginning of a school-wide vision, a plan that treats writing instruction with intention, with a systematic, systemic approach.
Let’s take it one more step – to the district level. When teachers share ideas, common strategies, and a chance to talk with teachers from all schools in the district, imagine the benefits: cohesion, cooperation instead of competition, and, most important of all, a common vision. As one Instructional Supervisor for a large district told her gathered teachers at a workshop, “You know, these precious children who come to your school aren’t just yours. They’re all OUR children. They belong to all of us.”
Isn’t that the truth?
We are having a wonderful summer – full and rewarding. We’ve been to districts literally across the state, and we have worked with teachers from Kindergarten classrooms and ones who teach seniors in high school. Let me tell you, whether we worked in Knox or Ohio or McCracken Counties, we found teachers eager to learn new things, so ready to share and to listen. With those hundreds of teachers we have worked with this summer, we have laughed and learned – and talked (and then talked some more). A sea of talk? Yes, meaningful, honest, important talk. Come and share in the conversation with us!