Saturday, December 27, 2008

Teaching Essentials

I just completed Regie Routman's Teaching Essentials. The only thing that surprised me in this book was its length. I first read Regie Routman's Transitions in 1990 as I returned to teaching after several years at home on the mommy track, and my connection to her work was immediate. As the years went along I read each of her lengthy, meaty books filled with detailed stories and her thoughtful journey. This book, much like Debbie Miller's Teaching with Intention, was like sitting down with a dear friend and discussing a long and meaningful career. Instead of summarizing the book, I have taken some quotes directly from the book that ring so true for me.

"Assume all children are smart and treat them that way."
 
"It is writing that turns children into readers."
 
"Anything we teach children in depth is likely to be learned."
 
"When a lesson goes badly, I ask myself, What didn't I do that is causing the students to be successful? I never think, What's wrong with these students? I place the responsibility on me, where it belongs."
 
"Teach with a sense of urgency."

"In a decade of working in schools across the country, I have learned that high achievement school wide only happens when there is collaboration and conversation throughout the whole school, across all grade levels and disciplines."

"It's all about relationships. I've learned that if we don't have positive, trusting relationships with our colleagues and students, not much of any consequence is likely to happen. On the other hand, when we do have that trust, we can ask for and expect more from our colleagues and students."

"I have always believed that mentoring is a part of our job as teachers, whether we get paid for it or not, and that we have an unspoken obligation to support our peers."

"One of the first questions I would ask any teacher seeking employment is ... Talk about a book or text that had a lasting impact on you, and tell why."
"If something seems like a ridiculous practice and a waste of time, it probably is."

"Without a level of smartness and engagement, we are at the mercy of the latest published program or 'scientific' study and limited to following procedures without understanding them."

"Teachers are the only professionals I know who will do what we know is not beneficial for our students and their families rather than challenge obviously ineffective current ideas or new programs."

"Rather than jumping through hoops demonstrating your fidelity to the latest program, put your energy into expressing your fidelity to your students."

"Even when a program has passed muster, we must provide a balance by using a variety of excellent resources... when one textbook becomes the total curriculum, we shortchange our students."

"Knowledgeable teachers and administrators carefully pick the best parts of any adopted program and ignore the unfavorable features."

"Avoid elaborate centers, overlong assignments, cute activities that take lots of time but teach little of importance... Keep asking yourself: How is what I am expecting my students to do helping them become more proficient, confident, independent as learners?"

"Start with the student, not the standard."

"Rethink group structures in reading... Working with students in small groups is an effective way to constantly assess how students are progressing and what they need to move forward."

"My experience as a teacher-researcher has been that students of all ages read and write more and with greater quality and independence when the task and the text are authentic and relevant."

"We all do better when we have some choice in what we are being asked to do."

"One week, one semester, one year with an outstanding teacher can change a child's life forever."

"...simplicity, intelligence and whimsy. I wrote those three words down and posted them above my desk. I frequently refer to them as a metaphor for how I want to live my life."

Wow, Regie, that about wraps it up!

1 comment:

Dr. Sanford Aranoff said...

I'll have to check out this book. You may want to see another great book: "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.