current and past projects
This project is a collaboration with the Fred Rogers Center. It began from descriptive noticing at a local elementary school with Kindergarten teachers and their students. Inspired from these teachers and their learning, we now have an expanded neighborhood of educators who will learn and grow together inspired by the life and work of Fred Rogers beginning in school year 2019-20.
For more information, visit The Fred Rogers Center and its archive.
Here’s a piece I wrote about these Kindergarten teachers and the origin of this project: When we trust in teachers, teachers remember to trust in themselves.
Teachers as Thinkers—professional learning for educators
July 2018, July 2019
In-depth, collaborative professional learning for K-12 educators, co-facilitated with Michelle King in partnership with Western PA Writing Project, University of Pittsburgh, School of Education.
Centered around the premise of “you are enough,” this week of learning is structured as a love letter for teachers. The approach extends from the principles of educator learning embraced by the National Writing Project, including the idea that the best teachers of teachers are other teachers.
Collaboratively designed and co-created through process, this week engages teachers in thinking about, and re-imagining around and inside, the following topics: power, intrinsic motivation, structural racism, slowness, listening, writing and drawing as methods of thinking, data, systems, trust, among others.
noticing site visits
I support districts, schools, and organizations through site visits to notice and describe with an open-ended lens. I focus on how learning and knowledge are understood, enacted, talked about, and expressed in a site.
I notice with a lens of finding something new inside something known holding the noticing framework as a guide.
I can write reports of descriptions and make recommendations. I also can facilitate site-based conversations with stakeholders around descriptions of learning in order to support new wonderings, interpretations, and possible next steps to emerge from the site itself.
I consult with districts, schools, and organizations wanting to think big-picture about their approach to learning for students, for educators, and for other stakeholders.
I begin from a place of noticing to describe, then move to conversations and planning around leverage areas for (re)design to maximize strengths as opportunities for growth.
I have engaged in this kind of consultation work locally and nationally. Through experience, I have learned that this approach rests on the commitment of leadership to engage slowly and deeply, as well as stakeholders’ trust in themselves and each other.
I facilitate protocols to support deep noticing, layered description, listening, focused conversation, and big-picture thinking about issues that matter to a group.
I first learned about protocols in 2002 from the National Writing Project. Since then, I have learned through participation and practice across many contexts: how to select a protocol for a specific context, how to adapt it to meet a group’s needs, and how to facilitate learning through its use.
Protocols can support teachers to notice student learning artifacts in deeper ways so their instruction better meets student needs. Protocols can also support a group of people to notice and describe how knowledge operates in a system and find new questions to pursue in re-imagining that system. Protocols are an important component of on-going professional learning structures designed to support consistency, focus, and depth in professional conversations.
writing workshop—classroom practice and professional learning
When I began my career as a teacher in 1994 on the Southside of Chicago, I taught using a Writing Workshop. Throughout my 23 years as a public school educator, I continued to grow my practice to teach children as writers using a workshop model. Writing has always been my favorite thing to teach.
Since 2002, I have shared my classroom practice in facilitation of professional learning for other educators around teaching writing (and reading) through a workshop model. I can share methods and ideas for mini-lessons, conferencing, student-to-student sharing, student-led conversations, exploration of mode, relationship between reader-writer, using mentor texts, among other topics.
My professional development facilitation around writing-reading workshops is focused on preK-Grade 6.
Children’s Innovation Project and Teachers’ Innovation Project
Children’s Innovation Project (in which Teachers’ Innovation Project was embedded) began in 2010 and developed through 2017. Co-founded with Jeremy Boyle, we began with a question about innovation as it related to our own inquiry practice as teacher and artist-teacher in a classroom of Kindergarten children. We collaborated with many partners in our learning along the way.
We learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work in growing an idea in practice beyond one classroom. We learned a lot about the limitations of discourse around “scale” & “improvement” models. We learned a lot about other things, too. Just ask!
I continue to direct the project, with a focus to: share learning from years of development; support others to adapt parts of the project to their own context; facilitate workshops around technology as raw material and innovation as finding something new; advocate for learning-focused approaches with/of technology.
number study—classroom practice
Through my classroom practice, I created something I came to call “number study.” After years of struggling to find an approach to teaching mathematics that was as inspiring and effective as teaching using a writing workshop, I decided to apply all that I knew about writing workshop to my teaching of number concepts.
It took a few years of trial and error, mostly error. Then I found the heart of it and figured out what worked/didn’t work from writing workshop. What grew was a space where children motivated and sustained their own mathematical challenges, while I had space to conference with children as mathematicians, and find ways for them to learn authentically from each other’s inquiries and process.
I have not yet had an opportunity to share formally this approach of teaching number concepts, but I would be interested in sharing this approach with a focus on preK-Grades 2/3.
supporting students to notice & think about art—classroom practice
From my very first day as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools (1994) I was learning from and with artists. I was lucky to be part of the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) before I even knew what it was. I was co-teaching weekly lessons with a dancer and having my practice video taped (on VHS!) later to be shown to me for collaborative reflection with other teachers learning with artists. There was a lot to reflect upon and a lot for me to learn.
Over my years as a teacher, there has been one constant for me—I have always worked with an artist. And through these many collaborations across artistic disciplines (dance, drama, visual art, music), I have learned how to support children to notice, describe, interpret, and dream from art.
The photos here come from children’s noticing of art at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the Mattress Factory (my favorite place to take children in Pgh).
I have only occasionally shared my practice around supporting children to notice and think about art, but I am open to more opportunities to share this layer of learning. I believe noticing, describing, connecting to, and creating art is a powerful aspect of learning for all humans.
open-ended, interdisciplinary learning—classroom practice & professional learning
This is my heart. Learning how to grow productive open-ended spaces and curate limits with materials in order for students to direct their own inquiry has been an on-going and imperfect project throughout my career. And it continues to be my favorite thing to share, discuss, and co-practice with other educators. It is hard. And every time I figure something out in practice (or read about a new idea), I find yet another challenge that before I couldn’t even see.
There are endless complexities and layers of learning around supporting children to find and follow their own questions. I care about these complexities and layers. And this is why I care to support other educators to find ways to grow more open-ended, interdisciplinary learning for all children in all contexts.
I frequently share specific elements of practice with educators, including: design of space, assignment frames, material curation, documentation, habits of learning, internalization of challenge, embrace of process, observational drawing, slow noticing, scaffolds for listening and collaboration, and other methods/ideas.