What I’ve Read and Learned: July 2019

July was a much busier pace at work than I expected and as a result, much of my time was working…not reading! Here are a few that I ‘squeezed’ in!

Intent vs. Impact: Why Your Intentions Really Don’t Matter

This article connects with so much I’ve been reading about equity and inclusiveness and racism. Intent is often used to deflect calls for change and to avoid feedback one sees as critical.

Feedback, Learning Publicly and Educators

Over the last month, most of what I’ve read has been on Twitter. There have been blog posts, long threads and so much back and forth. I’m very interested in how educators respond to feedback. I’ve seen authors (of books and blog posts) post a lesson or idea that excludes or harms students. While these posts and books are publicly available, the general feeling expressed is that they don’t want to have any criticism posted publicly. This feels “uncomfortable” and “is not the place” for feedback. Often someone states that if we really cared to provide feedback, we should do it privately (through a direct message or person-to-person conversation).

I’ve seen this “discomfort” erupt (it really does feel like an eruption) over classroom decor ideas, language arts lessons, conference sessions, and books. This bothers me for a few reasons.

  1. We are prioritizing the comfort of the oppressor over the oppressed.
  2. If the original lesson/idea/book was public and has been shared/commented on, then the learning also needs to be public so as to impact just as many educators as those who shared the original idea.
  3. Tone interpretation and tone policing is a dangerous idea to apply to tweets/fb posts/blog posts. I’ve been seeing a lot of the argument of “but your tone is attacking me” rather than focusing on content.
  4. AND I believe we are doing the questioning to improve learning for students who have systems in place against them.

I encourage you to read with a fresh eye. Think about how this impacts students and look at the reactions. Does the response immediately raise a defense in response to feedback? Is there a willingness to admit they have learning to do or a pushback against doing it publicly? We talk often about the need to admit when we make mistakes, model how we improve constantly and how important it is to share our own learning.

All American Boys

Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely wrote this incredible young adult novel. It’s a book about one event, told through different perspectives. My feelings about some of the characters changed over the course of the book and the way their own beliefs and actions changed over the course of the story really made me think. Specifically about what actions I can take that might shift someone’s thinking and spur them on to action.

City of Girls

Image result for city of girls

Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest novel was my book of choice over my week of vacation. I loved the way her characters were followed over a long period of time with new revelations along the way! I struggled with the self-centeredness of the main character and her inability to see how her actions impacted others. This is a story told by an elderly main character, looking back at her life in great detail.

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