Summer Reading, Here we go!

Last Saturday, the day after the last day of school, I heard Lee Watanabe Crockett speak about developing a classroom of “future-focused” learners.  I sat there, nodding to these words:”The most underutilized resource in the classroom is the learner. The most underestimated person is the classroom is the learner.” Crockett then detailed three things we can give our students.

  1. Give students problems that matter, to them.
  2. Give them access to the tools. Not hardware but the “head ware” the ability to analyze and communicate their thinking.
  3. Stand aside by moving the responsibility for the learning from the teacher to the learner.

The “head ware” Crockett talks about is what he calls “essential fluencies” that follow the same path that writers, designers, and scientists use to create:

Define: What am I suppose to do?
Discover: What do I need to know and be able to do? Why is the problem here?
Dream: What might a successful outcome look like?
Design: What steps do I need to take to accomplish the task?
Deliver: How will I know I’m successful? Produce/implement
Debrief: How could the process/product be improved.

Yes. Good. This will help.
My students prefer working with others.
Others that they get along with.
All want to engage in purposeful work.
But, not with just anyone.
Too often, something got in the way.

Certain children had that “get along” quality that allowed for successful group work. Mary* was one of them. Something about her smoothed over rough edges. Mary could see others and gave them space to be heard. I wondered, what could nudge others to take this stance. I wondered about who saw her.

As I read Sara K. Amend’s book, Being the Change, I think of Mary, and I realize the essential work I need to do next year. Not just so students can have better group dynamics and work cohesively on problems that matter to them, but be able to see their classmates’ humanity and the issues that exist in their world.

We humans can have a tendency to become silos. All wrapped up in ourselves and our hidden biases. Not seeing our neighbor who is not like us because they are not like us. For my students to do the meaningful work  Crockett suggests,  we will need to see and hear each other. We need to learn to be more like Mary. These two books have a lot to teach me this summer.



Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Tuesday’s Slice of Life. Read more slices here.


8 thoughts on “Summer Reading, Here we go!

  1. I’m also reading Being the Change. I decided to pair it with Sparks in the Dark and Kids 1st from Day One. It feels like this summer’s thinking will be about how to see each other and to work for understanding that will allow for real conversations, and so much more. Happy reading!

  2. I am also looking forward to reading Being the Change this summer. I used to think that every class, every group, needed a Mary, but I think you’re right: we need to grow our teaching so that we can encourage others to take Mary’s stance.

  3. I will be reading Being the Change. I hadn’t heard of the book Mindful Assessment, but I love the ideas you shared here about it. Thanks.

  4. How stunningly true it is that the most underutilized resource and most underestimated person in the classroom is the learner … what an informative and encouraging post, though. Hope shines though these books – excellent recommendation!

  5. Reading, thinking, dreaming – you are a future-oriented teacher-learner during the summer. I have not heard the term future-focused. Fits nicely with futurewise – a term I learned recently from a book with the same name.

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