It’s really amazing how far I’ll go to learn about teaching reading.
I’ve found myself halfway across the world, thousands of miles from my home in San Francisco to attend the Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project (#TCRWP) Digital and Media Literacy Conference. Attendees from over 30 countries have all convened in this spot to learn about one thing — reading and writing workshop in the context of modern day digital tools.
What strikes me about this first day, though, is not innovative apps or even the number of educators from such diverse arenas and perspectives. Instead, what strikes me most about this day is the simplicity that underlies one of our most basic skills as humans and as learners, and that is our desire to communicate with one another.
In fact, as I was sitting and listening to Colleen Cruz (@colleen_cruz) speak about the core tenets of reader’s and writer’s workshop (as well as Brian Cambourne’s “Conditions of Learning”), I remembered something. And perhaps it was something that I already knew.
Regardless, the thought intensified in my synapses and carved a message into my neuropathways.
We live in an educational era that’s hyper-concerned with products and accountability. While it’s important to ensure products are being made, and while it’s important that teachers are held accountable for teaching children, so much of what we do cannot be captured and documented because so much of what we do is ephemeral. Better yet, so many of the “products” that we should use to document learning are actually mementos of a process, instead of a final culminating project, summative assessment, or end-of-semester grade.
Even in my own path as an educator, some of the most profound moments of learning on this first day of the Digital and Media Literacy Institute have materialized through listening to others, conferring with myself and with my colleagues, and reflecting in an effort to self-select modifications to my practice, simply through the two-way feedback loops of which I’ve had the pleasure to be a part.
And so, on my first day in Paris, instead of traveling halfway across the world and learning something earth shattering, radical, and brand new, I’m reminded of the beautiful simplicity of teaching and that sometimes the best teaching comes from instinct, a strong culture, and just a little bit of faith in the process.
And it’s this process — not the products — of reading, writing, and learning that truly makes us better at what we do each day.