Professional Development

Cris&SamPhotoWe Are Smarter Together!

Being a teacher seems to get harder every year.  No one has this profession completely figured out and trying to go it alone is tough and leads to burnout.  For this reason, Sam Bennett and I have joined forces to share not only what gives us energy but different ways we’ve gotten smarter for kids.  Over the past thirteen years, we’ve learned a lot of lessons together and have had our growing pains.

I first met Sam thirteen years ago right after I wrote, I Read It but I Don’t Get It.  At the time, she was working with the PEBC (Public Education and Business Coalition) and was assigned to be my lab facilitator when visitors wanted to observe my classroom.

Watching Sam in action with the visitors, I knew that I needed a coach as much anyone.  I still remember some of Sam’s guiding questions knocking me back on my heels as I tried to answer for myself the same thing teachers were being asked to think about.   After twenty some years of teaching, there was still I lot that I could learn.  Soon Sam and I were trading visits for planning time.  We found ourselves working together to investigate how to create more engagement in students, not just in language arts classrooms but also in the core and elective classes.

After all these years, we’ve got a pretty cool thing going.  Sam and I work hard to implement what the researchers say teachers should be doing in the classroom with kids.  We call our model, Literacy Lab.  Both Sam and I coach and show teachers how to plan and instruct in a way that makes best practices, practical.  Over the past four years we have set up Literacy Labs in several different buildings across the county and want to let others in on how we do this. Using students’ work and thinking, we help teachers and administrators “see” how they might create more student engagement and achievement.Our belief is that whoever is doing the reading, writing, and talking is the one who gets smarter.  Not only does this hold true in the classroom but it also holds true when it comes to professional development.  Teachers and administrators who are involved in Literacy Labs are the ones doing the work.  They aren’t sitting and getting.  They are doing!    Feel free to contact us and share what you are doing as well.  Remember… together we can all get smarter for kids.

One thought on “Professional Development

  1. Hi Cris, I am so impressed with your knowledge of children and their reading journey. I am currently the literacy resource specialist in my school but have taught k-6 for 18 years and am currently working toward a reading specialist masters. Our 6th grade is departmentalized ( writing, science, social studies and math) 3 times a week the kid are with their home room teacher for reading, which is mostly kids silent reading (with no accountability). My 6th grade teachers feel that they should not be teaching kids to read, but that they already should know how to read. (Ahhhhhh!) I have many questions but we are thinking about teaming them next year and I was wondering what you thought of that. Is there a model you have observed that would be best suited to integrate reading and writing into the content areas? I’d love to have you help our 6th grade teachers with reading instruction. Looking forward to hearing from you. Colleen

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