NCTE17: Beginning and Ending with Our Assets

“Resources tend to dictate practice.” So began my last section at NCTE.

Over the course of the next 75 minutes, Vicki Vinton, Donna Santman, and Ellin Keene took us on a reflective journey turning that idea on its head. If resources dictate our actions, we will always fall short.

Vicki, in her quiet but brilliant way, asked us to articulate our beliefs by pondering these questions:
What is the purpose of education?
What do you want for children?
How do you see children?
And finally-
Do your actions line up with your beliefs?

Of course, she gave us ideas to consider.
This one sticks.


The only way I own my learning is when I create it. This is real. And I’d venture that the majority of the teachers I work with and those at NCTE believe this.

But. Does this belief drive our instruction?
Does it show up in practice?
Perhaps, in the beginning, it is acknowledged. But in practice, is it supported or measured?

Donna Santman shared her journey over the past year and asked us to consider these questions:

How do beliefs and practices live in school?
What made your current school and position a match for you?
Does the match live on?

The answers to these questions lead to more.

How do you reconcile the realities of your school with your beliefs?
Do practices support or corrupt beliefs?
Is there a point when we say no?

Where is your line?

I believe part of the answer is how we monitor and support children.
How do we define growth?
What is learning?
It should go back our beliefs and what we want for our children.

Ellin Keene ended the session saying something that hit me hard.

“We are in a self-deprecating profession. We are humbled by our responsibility for children.”

This should not disable us.

Keene asked us to consider:


Defining our work in these terms would allow so much more. I can’t but wonder why this stance isn’t a natural one. One that allows the alignment of belief with practice.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. It is wonderful to see you here.

7 thoughts on “NCTE17: Beginning and Ending with Our Assets

  1. A powerful conclusion: “I can’t but wonder why this stance isn’t a natural one. One that allows the alignment of belief with practice.” I think this session would have made me squirm a bit.

  2. What an amazing session, Julieanne! I think it’s the daily struggle to get the point of “alignment of belief with practice” that both challenges us as well as guides us. I love the idea of developing an asset based language – big thinking, indeed!

  3. So much to ponder here. The quick thought that comes to my mind is our scope and sequence is so fast-paced and comprehensive that it doesn’t allow time for discovery. It feels, often, like we have to cram everything in the children’s heads to do well on the test before moving onto the next topic. I know this is awful but those are the thoughts that came to my mind first when thinking about why beliefs don’t alight with practices…

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