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Opening the Door to Reflection: Resetting Our Workshop Practices Blog Series

Welcome! Please enjoy this video message to introduce our August blog series:

Find a transcript of the video by clicking this link.

Giveaway Information: 

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Elementary Writing. Many thanks to Corwin Literacy for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Elementary Writing, please leave a comment about this post by Thursday, 8/11 at 11:59 a.m. EDT. You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter the giveaway. Amy Ellerman will use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names she will announce in an in case you missed it post about this blog series Friday, August 12th. 
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so Amy can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.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, Amy will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – AUGUST BLOG SERIES. Please respond to Amy’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.

Lainie Levin View All

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

20 thoughts on “Opening the Door to Reflection: Resetting Our Workshop Practices Blog Series Leave a comment

  1. I think letting go is SO hard for teachers, especially elementary teachers (those staff lounges prove it). I love hearing you affirming that we can shift our teaching practices. This is really hitting home for me since this year I will be co-teaching 3rd grade. I know I will need to let go in order to move forward, and ‘m good with that. Shifting my thinking and practices is something that I NEED to keep me motivated as a teacher. About 3 years ago I underwent a transformation of my math instruction, focusing on CPA learning (Concrete/Pictorial/Abstract). This not only invigorated my teaching, but I have seen how this shift has benefitted my students. I’m excited to rethink my writing practices as well. Thank you for this series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad to hear that! It’s interesting that you mention your transformation in math. For me, that shift you mention – the one that reinvigorates our practice? – it’s honestly what has kept me teaching for so long. Without it, I don’t know if I’d have the resilience or energy to push forward and feel good about it.

      Good luck to you, as well, as you begin co-teaching. That’s a whole new ball of wax, for sure!


  2. Thank you for the reminder to be gentle on ourselves as we embark upon a new year. I am especially interested in continuing to ditch former practices that don’t serve us as we respond to the evolving classroom culture and make room for those that DO!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a good reminder that when you have that moment where you’re scratching your head and wondering why you ever did “that”, it’s growth. Nothing to be ashamed of.

    Here’s to a new year of forgiveness to myself, and a new opportunity for change and growth!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the analogy to the tables and tables of STUFF we all give away at the beginning (and end) of the year. You’re right – we need to give ourselves the same safe space we give our students.

    Your thought that if all goes well, future me will be shaking her head wondering what I was doing now… that is really making me think … about what it truly means to be a life long learner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! You know, the longer I teach, the more I realize how important it is to show myself the same compassion and grace that I do my students. I might have things closer to figured out by the time I retire….maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for beginning the year with the idea that we do not need to judge our former practices or carry any shame about learning and growing as educators. That can be a challenging shift to make!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right! Now that you mention it, I think about all the challenging shifts my colleagues and I have asked ourselves to make. It’s really quite mind-boggling when I take the time to consider. It’s like, I’m still who I am philosophically, at my moral center. But there’s so very much that’s changed about my approach and my methodology.


  6. I think I’m seeing this at just the right time. This spring and summer have been about reexamining my beliefs and practices around all things literacy. What began as conversations and a ton of professional reading has morphed into a joyful decision to go to school this year to get a literacy authorization while continuing to support teachers in my TOSA job as a lit coach.

    I love how you used the idea of weeding out our classrooms of old stuff. Some of us hold on to all the old stuff– in case we need it again, while others enjoy purging. In my district, the tables of old supplies, teacher books, posters, etc. start taking shape in early May. Even so, I know it can be hard to let the stuff go, especially when it’s attached to happy memories. Just as some teachers have difficulty letting old stuff go, some have difficulty letting old practices go. Your idea of giving ourselves permission to let old practices go without negative judgement and to honor our own growth and evolution struck a chord in me. So many of us can resist learning something new or resist deep reflection because we are NOT gentle with ourselves or don’t want to appear vulnerable to others. The idea of changing our practice is scary or represents to idea that we didn’t serve previous students well.

    I am hoping to learn from this series and to share this learning with my colleagues this year. And I can’t wait.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Terryl, your comment makes me think of Marie Kondo’s practice of thanking things for their service even as we let them go. These practices served us for a time and when you described letting go of something “attached to happy memories” it made me think that the memory stays even when the practice goes. Thanks for sharing and joining us in this series!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Terryl, I’m so glad this post – and this series! – is hitting you at the right time. It’s amazing to me how many of the sea-changes I’ve experienced in my teaching have been because I’ve seen the right idea at exactly the right time. And like you, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching in recent months, and I’m glad and grateful that it’s brought me to a place of forward motion. I’m excited for you as you begin the process of gaining new authorization / credentials. You’re also right about folks who resist change or evolution because they have difficulty sitting in the discomfort, or in evaluating without judgment. For those folks, I wish them moments of compassion and patience – for themselves, and ultimately for their students.

      Morgan, how is it that I never thought about the Marie Kondo practice? Of course! Thanking things, thanking ideas, for their service, recognizing they no longer serve us, and letting them go. Brilliant!


  7. My district is shifting their thoughts on writing this year. It has been paced out differently. I am excited to “unlearn” and grow as a teacher this year. I love the teacher’s lounge metaphor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Molly, that sounds like quite the undertaking! I’m working in my district to try the same, so I’d be interested to hear how things work out for you and your colleagues. Here’s wishing you all good things as you start the year.


  8. Thank you for this series and the permission to “unlearn.” I have reflected a lot on how to set up routines in writing that are more predictable for my second graders independent of the genre of writing. One thing I know my high kids they really thrive on is the use of checklists. All of them also love the tactile writing process ladder I have on the board. They move a magnet with their name on it to the next stage of the process. I think I need to work this year on opening up the publishing gate. I would like to make sure more kids finish their work even if the revision/editing is not as sufficient as it “should” be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To Saroyan, Thank you for mentioning two specific practices your second graders love! And the intention to “open the publishing gate”- also a beautiful phrase. You might even use it with your students.
      To Lainie, thank you for this beautiful intro. Your opening metaphor of the give-always accumulating in the staff lounge is perfect. You set the tone for forgiving ourselves and opening up to growth.


    • Sarita, I’m glad and grateful to hear that this series resonates with you, and I hope you’ll find some food for thought as we move on. Like Fran, I was interested in the phrase “open the publishing gate.” It can be really difficult for students – and heck, me too! – to let a work stand as finished, even with the flaws it might have. I think it’s the same reason why it’s sometimes hard for me to go back and read writing I did a long time ago. I wish you all the luck as you work in the coming year to nurture your second graders along!

      And Fran, I appreciate your kind words. As a poet-at-heart, I often find that I’m stuck in my writing until I find the right metaphor. I suppose there’s another metaphor for that, as well…? Here’s hoping you find the upcoming series as thought-provoking and meaningful as I do!


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