Reflections and Shifts As We Move Forward Blog Series

Reflections and Shifts As We Move Forward: A Blog Series

In the picture book They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, each page illustrates the way a different animal “sees” a house cat. To a dog the cat is lanky and suspicious, to a fish the cat is a blur through the glass of the aquarium, and to a mouse the cat appears as a fiery monster. Each animal sees the cat through their own perspective, through the lens of their own experiences.

That is how the past school year feels. As educators, we all experienced the pandemic, but how we see it can vary dramatically depending on our individual circumstances. For some, the pandemic meant switching completely to virtual teaching and then staying that way, perhaps to this day. For others, the school year brought one change after another–first hybrid, then fully virtual, then back in-person five days a week, teaching small children from behind plexiglass, only to go back to being fully virtual again. 

Some educators experienced an outpouring of support like they’ve never seen – whether it was time to collaboratively plan with colleagues, home-made face coverings to start the school year, extra personal days, or thank you notes from families and colleagues. Other educators experienced a dismal lack of recognition or support from their communities, and pressed on anyway. Others made the tough decision to leave the profession all together.

Recently, I reflected with a large group of educators with whom I work closely. Their feelings about this school year ranged from a sense of deep loss, hope for positive changes that will last, grief for lost loved ones and colleagues, personal anxiety over jobs, health, our families’ well-being, and more. 

This week, our team at Two Writing Teachers plans to pause to reflect on this unusual school year, and share our thoughts on what we experienced and what shifts in our work we hope to see going forward. 

On Sunday, Therapi will share her thoughts on how this year contained important lessons on incorporating social-emotional learning into everything we do as teachers of writing.

On Monday, Stacey will share thoughts on ways we all can improve conferring with individual students going forward.

On Tuesday, Amy will reflect on how leveraging technology can offer more frequent and impactful feedback for students.

On Wednesday, Melanie writes about how this past year affirmed the importance of multimodal writing.

On Thursday, Betsy will write about how this year required more integration of writing into other subject areas for her, and she plans to carry this forward.

On Friday, I (Beth) will reflect on how this year highlighted the importance of collaborating with caregivers and families at home.

On Monday, May 10, Kathleen will announce the winner of our book giveaway. Throughout the series, comment on any of our May 2021 blog series posts for a chance to win a copy of The Responsive Writing Teacher, by Melanie Meehan and Kelsey Sorum.

Past posts on reflection:


  • This giveaway is for a copy of The Responsive Writing Teacher by Melanie Meehan and Kelsey Sorum. Many thanks to Corwin Literacy for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of The Responsive Writing Teacher, please leave a comment about this post by Saturday, May 8th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Kathleen Sokolowski will use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose names she will announce at the bottom of the ICYMI post on Monday, May 10th. NOTE: You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter the giveaway.
    • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so Kathleen can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, our contact at Corwin will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, Kathleen will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – MAY BLOG SERIES. Please respond to Kathleen’s e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

14 thoughts on “Reflections and Shifts As We Move Forward: A Blog Series

  1. What an incredible opportunity to intentionally reflect on the many aspects of teaching this school year has brought. I will share this with our staff and encourage them to use this series as a way to process all of the changes many of us haven’t had time to pause and internalize. It’s been a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of year.


  2. This pandemic year has been my first year teaching (I teach middle school English) and I have really been struggling with teaching writing. Everyone tells me that writing is hard to teach anyway, but it is so hard when half my class is online! I look forward to reading about how more experienced teachers have responded to this year’s challenges.


  3. As someone who is not a language arts/writing teacher, I’m looking forward to this series as I’m always looking for new strategies for writing in my social studies class! 🙂

    Thank you for pushing our own thinking forward.


  4. Thank you for this post. This year has been quite the pivot, requiring so much flexibility. I have done a lot of reflecting on my own (not necessarily blogging about it), and I have found this to be helpful in order to make sense of it all.


  5. Looking forward to reflecting on this past year along with you. Planning to spend lots of time helping students reflect as well.


  6. I am very excited to learn from this series next week! I appreciate how your team always focuses on the real life teaching of writing! Also, I need to revisit the book, “They All Saw a Cat”. This will be a great book to share with teachers on perspectives!!


  7. I’m really looking forward to reading these posts next week! It’s so important to intentionally set aside time for reflection, and I know these posts will spark my thinking and inspire me to reflect and set goals moving forward.


  8. Thank you all for continuing to share ideas and strategies for teachers to utilize given these unusual circumstances. The constant seesaw in instruction modes (completely remote to small group learning labs back to completely remote and currently in hybrid) just proves how resilient our teachers can be.


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