Monday, November 30, 2015

Mindset On My Mind - Chapter 2 Disco

Barb Novak contributed today's thinking. She's re-reading Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and blogging about each chapter. Previous posts are available here.

Continuing what I started with chapter one, I again read and thought over breakfast. It felt good to give myself the time, space, and permission to linger over my reading and writing. I'm sharing the notes I took as part of this post.

Chapter 2 gives many, many examples of fixed and growth mindset and explores each mindset's approach to failure and effort. The chapter left me thinking about two big ideas:

  • applying mindset to relationships - especially coaching relationships
  • the relationship between mindset and assessment

Applying Mindset to Relationships
Dweck writes, "It's not just about intellectual tasks. . . People also have to decide what kinds of relationships they want: ones that bolster their egos or ones that challenge them to grow" (p. 18). Coaching relationships are ones that challenge both people - client and coach - to grow; growth mindset is a critical component of coaching.

It seems, then, that a school culture and climate that fosters growth mindset is an important component of the success of coaching. How can a school measure the growth mindset of its staff and students to determine readiness for coaching? How can growth mindset be encouraged among staff and students?

Mindset and Assessment
Dweck and her team did an experiment with a group of fifth graders. They placed a test in a box and asked each student questions about the test. Students were told the test "measured an important school ability" (p. 26) and then asked whether the test measures how smart they are now and how smart they could be in the future. Dweck writes,

"Students with the growth mindset had taken our word that the test measured an important ability, but they they think it measured how smart they were. And they certainly didn't think it would tell me how smart they'd be when they grew up. In fact, one of them told us, 'No way! Ain't no test can do that.'

But the students with fixed mindset didn't simply believe the test could measure an important ability. They also believed - just as strongly - that it could measure how smart they were. And how smart they'd be when they grew up.

They granted one test the power to measure their most basic intelligence now and forever. They gave this test the power to define them" (p. 27).

Dweck also applied mindset to educators, proposing that those with a fixed mindset believed they could understand a student and his/her capabilities from a single test score.

This combination - students and educators with a fixed mindset - makes assessment seem even more high stakes and dangerous than I've ever considered. A student with a fixed mindset sees his/her future in a single score. An educator with a fixed mindset makes judgments about a student from a single score.

How do we ensure our classrooms and systems approach assessment with a growth mindset? How do we communicate with families and community members to encourage viewing assessment through the lens of a growth mindset?

Use the comments to share your thinking about Chapter 2.

(Chapter 3 - The Truth about Ability and Accomplishment is next. Join the conversation in late December.)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Principals as Literacy Leaders

Julie Schwartzbauer contributed today's post.

"Through a lifetime of working in schools, one of my most powerful insights and core beliefs is that teachers must be leaders, and principals must know literacy.  Without a synergy between literacy and leadership and a committed, joint effort by teachers and principals, fragile achievement gains do not hold."
Regie Routman

I am very excited to share some great work we are doing in Appleton.  

If you are a literacy coach, you know who Regie Routman is.  And if you understand the importance of principal as instructional leader you have read her latest book Read, Write, Lead.  

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a dessert and conversation with Regie where participants engaged in an informal conversation regarding school change strategies, challenges, and successes.  One of the big Ah-ha's that came out of that evening was related to sustainable change and how the principal and literacy coach must work collaboratively to fully support teachers.  

In working as a district literacy coach in Appleton, I have learned that while  all principals come into their position with a vast array of knowledge, their background does not always include a foundation in literacy.  According to Regie, “without deep knowledge about literacy, principals remain restricted in their quest to raise reading and writing achievement across a whole school.”

Recently, three of our principals expressed interest in participating in ongoing professional collaboration with their building literacy coach.  Their goal is to increase expertise in literacy and create a solid infrastructure in their school.

Appleton Area School District is large and it takes time to build sustainable change.  It is our hope that by using Regie’s book as a starting point, with just a few schools, we will be able to move the connection between literacy and leadership to the forefront.  We will meet monthly with the three principals and their coaches, to lay the foundation which will lead to more effective literacy instruction, and ultimately accelerate and sustain student achievement.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Managing New Learning

Heather Zimmerman contributed today's thinking.

Some of you may have been following me since my first year of literacy coaching a couple years back. I remember entering this role and questioning what I got myself into when I was around my other literacy coach friends.  I remember our first meeting together and they were name dropping all these gurus in education, and I did not recognize hardly any names they mentioned.   I was so grateful for their wisdom, but I also felt overwhelmed and was questioning if I was qualified.  Sure, I had read texts as I went for my masters, but these were not the same texts they mentioned.   I am pretty sure no one mentioned the Cooter/Flynt resource I had used in my assessment course.  

So I started reading some of the names they mentioned.  I checked out who Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey are and explored many titles mentioned.  Now that I am in year three of coaching, I feel like I have a better grasp on the big names in the education world.  My new problem is that I am checking out different sources, but not consistently and strategically applying what I learned from all of these great educators.

My solution this year is to take a few books that I read over this summer and create my go-to pile on top of my file cabinet.  I see them every day.  I am not going to start reading other books, unless they are a part of a book club I am doing… or Kylene Beers and Robert Probst’s new Notice and Note book comes out… or Write Like This by Carl Anderson because I am using it for my PPG (professional practice goal) … OK it is easier said than done.  Of course, I will read texts that might help out my teachers, but I am not going overboard with my own professional text reading this year until I have applied some of the wonderful things I have learned in the books I have read.

I am really trying to manage my new learning and apply the professional texts I read this summer or are continuing to use from last year.  It is hard to not start a new book beyond my list that is already listed above, but I am doing a lot of online learning through blogs and videos.  And of course, I continue to read young adult books when I can squeeze them in.  

Here is my list of my go-to books this year:

  • Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen- Book club book and enjoying it.
  • Falling in Love with Close Reading by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts- A summer read.
  • Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst- Read this book awhile ago, but still use it all the time during my Comprehension Focus Groups.  Also, our literacy teachers 6-8 are reading this book this year.
  • The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo-This book has so much of everything.  I got this book this summer, and I look forward to using this book over the summer.
  • Read, Write, Lead by Regie Routman- A book club book that I am reading with the other 6-12 literacy coaches in my district.

How do you manage your new learning?  What are your go-to books this year?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Success in Postsecondary Writing: Flexibility

Marci Glaus, DPI's English language arts consultant, contributed today's thinking.

Recently, the UW System hosted a webinar on college readiness focusing on senior year English. Four English professors/instructors from different postsecondary institutions in Wisconsin shared their views regarding expectations for college writing. I took part in the webinar for obvious reasons, but I also wanted to compare their message with the writing resources we have available through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. While I appreciated the overall vision of the webinar, especially because it was based heavily on the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing, it is difficult to encapsulate college readiness for anything in one hour or less.

I perked up toward the end of the webinar when educators were allowed time to ask questions. There were not many, but one question in particular caught my attention because of the way the professor responded. A teacher asked what kinds of writing they expect students to be able to do in different college courses. In response, the professor talked about the idea that students should really be able to write for a wide variety of audiences, and to do this, they actually have to write for different authentic audiences. I threw a fist pump in the air and thought about all of the writers I have worked with over the last several months and their focus on audience.

Most of you have heard me gush (probably more than once) about Wisconsin Writes, a project that provides a glimpse into various Wisconsin writers’ processes as they plan, put a writing plan into action, revise, or edit—not in that order, and never in a linear fashion. Each writer is completely aware of audience for his/her writing whether or not they are published. Audience is a built assumption related to a writing process and drives so much of what they do. For example, while revising a poem, Wisconsin’s poet laureate Kimberly Blaeser, talks about having to do research to make sure her writing is historically accurate. She works at length on just one line of a poem she created to ensure its accuracy for readers.

Molly Magestro’s process includes thinking through whether or not her writing makes sense to readers. As she works on the sixth draft of her novel, she has to keep character details straight. She describes how changing a minor detail about one character, created repercussions in other parts of the book that she wasn’t expecting. She had to go back and revise so that her audience would not be confused.

Silvia Acevedo talks about gathering feedback related to different audiences. One audience can provide feedback on accuracy of the mythology she leans on in her story. Her main audience is kids, so when possible, she has them read her work for feedback to make sure they understand it and find it entertaining. Another audience is a writers group she is a part of for a different kind of critique. They offer feedback for revision purposes. She keeps all of these people in mind as she writes.

Authentic audience can change so much for students when they write. From our youngest students to those getting ready to move into college and/or careers, there are myriad audiences they can access for their writing in almost any genre or subgenre. Revisiting writing tasks in classrooms with an emphasis on audience can do several things. First, it provides a built-in purpose for writing. Second focusing on audience broadens the mode and media students might use to write: in most cases, the same task does not have to be done the same way. For example, a book review can be written with pencil and paper and turned in for a grade, but it can also be published inside library book covers for other people to access when choosing books. Students can write book reviews through a Goodreads account, or Amazon. They could even write and produce a podcast or other type of recording freely available for other people to access in the future in a space to collect the recordings. Each method accomplishes the writing goal for students, but establishes different audiences as well.

If our ultimate goal for students is to adjust the way that they communicate through writing based on different audiences or contexts, then they have to practice recognizing and writing in different contexts. Fortunately, we have a growing collection of author stories building on the Wisconsin Writes website offering windows into different writing contexts for students to see. Our next Wisconsin author, Patrick Rothfuss will be the first in the project to share his context for writing persuasively and the myriad audiences he has to keep in mind to reach his goal. His beard is also a reason for tuning in, along with his ancient keyboard that requires two adapters just to plug into his laptop. And goats. Lots about goats. Intrigued? Well, I know my audience.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Team Personalities

Sharon Seely contributed today's thinking.

Last week, waiting at the copy machine, talking about upcoming meetings with another teacher, I said that at an earlier time in my life, I had chosen to be very quiet and to not contribute to conversations at meetings. The teacher looked at me and said…that’s hard to believe, I can’t see you just sitting there and not saying anything.
I thought, "Wow! I have changed." Years ago, I didn’t contribute because I both feared there would be rebuttal from someone saying I was way off base or didn’t know my material and I questioned my own experience/knowledge.
This prompted me to think about teachers meeting and their sharing with their teams (grade-level, building-level), how are they feeling about sharing?  In the Leadership and Coaching training, I learned about team design. This began with understanding how we all contribute and communicate within a team.
One method is called the True Colors Personality Test.  The True Colors Personality Test is an inventory to help understand your own personality style/type and the personality style/type of your teammates.  This method promotes an appreciation of individual differences and the unique blend of the four styles.  There is no good or bad color and a wide individual variation does exist within each color. At a glance personalities are grouped into four colors:
  • Gold – “Be prepared and organized!”
  • Green – “What’s the Big Picture?
  • Orange – “Just do it!”
  • Blue – “How does that make you feel?”

What can we learn about ourselves and others from this personality test?
  • How we direct our energy
  • How we make a cohesive, effective team
  • How we solve problems
  • How we deal with conflict
  • How we build on strengths
  • How we coach and lead

When we did this at the training, the colleagues I attended with and I were three very different colors/color combinations; blue, gold/green and orange and we continue to function well as a team.

What color are you?  What colors are your teammates?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Keep Calm and Read On!

Maggie Schumacher contributed today's post. 

I consider it a pretty significant part of my role as a middle school reading specialist to keep current with young adult (YA) literature. Keeping current with literature serves a variety of important purposes; my primary reason for doing this is to build a “toolbox” that I can turn to anytime I need so that I can talk to students and teachers about current literature. It’s important to have recommendations for students that span a variety of levels, Lexiles, genres, and interests. I also need to know what’s fresh and exciting or controversial and page-turning so I can make recommendations to teachers for their classroom libraries or updating literature circle options. There’s nothing more important to me than matching a student with a good book! It’s important that students can see themselves reflected in literature.

I find out about current YA titles through various methods. If you’re looking for good titles, I’d recommend tapping into the following resources:

  1. Your school’s library media specialist.

If you are lucky enough to have one, and he or she’s as great as the one in my middle school, you need to utilize this amazing resource! This person should have access to lists of recent award winners and what’s new in YA literature.

  1. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) from UW-Madison.

Each year the CCBC publishes CCBC Choices, which is an annual best-of-the-year list broken down by genres and age groups. If you have the opportunity to visit the CCBC in Madison, you can hear about many new titles from those who have read and reviewed them. This can help to narrow down your reading list as well. The CCBC also has a “Book of the Week” and various book lists for reference on their website, including the Read On Wisconsin! ( current and past year book lists. The CCBC also should be your go-to if you are ever faced with a book challenge. Be sure to check out their information on intellectual freedom.

  1. Follow the annual award winners and visit book fairs and warehouse sales whenever you can.

There are many awards out there, but the Printz Award winners and honor books are typically where I start my list. The Michael L. Printz Award is an annual award for literary excellence in YA/teen literature ( This is my go-to list for hot titles in YA/teen reading. Last year’s winner, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, was beyond moving! There tend to be some controversial topics in these titles, but sometimes edgy and mature content can hook those most reluctant of readers.

These are only a few ways I find out about great new books, but they’re a great place to start!

I know I’m not the only one who’s heard and agreed with the mantra: “So many books, so little time.”  Because we are all so busy and stretched with our time, I know some of you are probably wondering how I can find the time to read all of these great books?!

One thing that I do is read with my students every day during independent reading time. I teach one block of reading intervention every day; within this block, students have a guaranteed twenty minutes of independent reading time. This is a non-negotiable in our school. During this time, I don’t pull students or conference - we just read. When the students are reading, I read too so they see me acting as a model of independent reading behaviors. This time is sacred and students are focused and working on sustained silent reading.
Our building also has a designated Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) time during homeroom every Thursday. At this time, the expectation is that every student and teacher drops everything and reads. This helps to promote a culture of literacy in our building. I take advantage of this time to work through my reading list; I always look forward to homeroom on Thursdays!

I try to make time to read each evening before I go to sleep. Believe me when I say that some nights I only make it one page into a chapter before I’m falling asleep on my book... but my good intentions are there. Some nights I manage a few chapters, some nights I manage more, and some nights less.

I read on my device when I’m killing time waiting for an oil change or in the doctor’s office. I listen to audiobooks in my car on my drive to and home from work or my weekend travels. Sometimes I even take a break at my desk during the school day (gasp!) and just pick up a book and read. Who’s to argue that’s not in my job description? I do, after all, specialize in reading! Find a system that works for you and figure out how to incorporate reading into your schedule! Give yourself the gift of a good book and permission to read it.

It’s important that our students see us as readers. It’s important to be knowledgeable and current on hot titles in literature so we can have recommendations for students and teachers alike. To read or not to read? That’s a silly question! Read on!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Embracing the Silence

Meghan Retallick contributed today's post.

Something I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting about since first being trained in coaching is using wait time and silence.  If you know me, you know that this skill doesn’t seem to mesh with my outgoing personality.  I have always been classified as a chatterbox, most often getting in trouble in school for talking when the teacher is instructing (I always said that karma came back around for that in the form of a few of my former 8th and 9th grade groups).  I was, and still often am, the student or audience member that broke first when a teacher/presenter used wait time in seeking feedback or discussion responses. And sadly, I was the student and fellow teammate who needed to learn how to share the spotlight and get out of the way so that others could share their ideas.  

When I think about my reasons for constant chatter in group settings, I believe it stemmed from a fear of and discomfort with silence.  Whenever I felt the first stirrings of awkward tension, I wanted to save people with a response--save the presenter from feeling like no one cared about their topic, save my fellow group members from having to speak if they weren’t comfortable, talk over those with concerns so that no one felt tension and conflict.  But rescuing others, I’ve learned, is not okay.  

Is it possible for me to be an effective literacy coach if I’m not comfortable with silence?  

The answer is no.  When I first had the opportunity to be in coaching conversations last school year, I knew that utilizing silence was an area of growth for me.  And here is what I realized by the end of the school year after much reflection and practice:  Embracing the silence is the best thing I’ve ever done.

Three Reasons Why Silence Really is Golden:

  1. The Finns recognize the power of silence.

If you’ve been in education the last few years, you’ve probably heard references to Finland and how we should be more like them.  Whether it is good or bad, I feel like “We should do ________ because the Finns do it” has become a mantra of American educators.  Now, to make my bias transparent, you should know that I have a natural inclination to support what the Finns do because of my heritage.  My grandfather (a former chemistry teacher) was 100% Finnish and didn’t speak a word of English when entering Kindergarten.  I am always in tune to these Finnish references not just because of their success in education, but also because of my background.

So when a coworker posted an article titled, The Bad American Habits I Kicked in Finland, on his Facebook account, I was immediately intrigued.  The author of this article is Tim Walker, an American teacher and writer based in Finland.   And I became more intrigued when I read the first reformed bad habit on his list:  I don’t fear awkward silences.  Walker states, “I have yet to meet an American who doesn’t dread the awkward silence.”  (Oh good, so it’s not just me then.)  But Walker found that the Finns embrace awkward silence.  “They understand that it’s a part of the natural rhythm of human interaction.  Sure, Finns know how to have conversations, but they’re not driven by a compulsion to fill time and space with needless chatter.”  

Let’s just take in that last statement for a moment:  They’re not driven by a compulsion to fill time and space with needless chatter.

So many times, I’ve found myself relying on small talk to ease over awkward tension.  The importance of making connections and building relationships with others cannot be denied, but are we really making relationships with needless chatter?  The more I reflected on this, the more I started to reflect on how I could have less quantity of conversations and higher quality.  Let’s cut right to the chase and purpose of the conversation, or as some of my really intelligent colleagues would say, “Let’s straight talk this one.”

  1. Silence allows processing time for reflection.

Another thing I’ve learned in the last 10 years about silence and wait time is that it allows for various responses to processing information.  I’ve noticed that I process information and have a response ready very quickly in relation to those around me.  What I’ve realized is that I need to take a few deep breaths and give others a chance to think through things before our discourse begins.  I once had a college professor encourage extroverts to count 10 seconds before speaking in our seminar discussions so that introverts would have time time to think through their responses.  This was a powerful lesson for me and one that serves me well each time I utilize it.  Because really, coaching is not about me.  It is about empowering others to reflect and respond, and a good facilitator of reflection gives those they are working with all the time they need to process.

  1. Silence grounds us and tames the urgency to jump into action too quickly.

How many times have I regretted stating a comment quickly without much thinking?  Too many times to count.  How many times have I regretted taking time and allowing silence to stretch while thinking out my response?  Never.

When we choose to embrace silence, something really powerful happens.  We stop.  We breathe.  We listen to those speaking before us.  We ask further questions to gather more information.  We respond confidently after hearing multiple viewpoints.  

We also start to know the difference between silences.  Are people stuck and need more facilitation and questions to get to a solution?  Or, does someone have a solution, but fears bringing it to the group?  

This is the beauty of the place I’m in now.  After working really hard last year to train myself to listen first and respond only after embracing silence, I now am at a level of comfort with silence where I can reflect on the causes of it.  What I feel now when faced with silence in PLCs, in coaching conversations, in meetings with administrators, in walks through the woods, or in my yoga classes can only be described as freeing and exhilarating.  That silence holds so much possibility, how can I not embrace it?

So, in parting, I ask you this:  What does your silence hold?  I hope you’ll let it stretch long enough to find out.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Conferring and Goal Setting Made Easy

Jaimie Howe contributed today's thinking.

Last month I wrote about the potential of implementing the Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Teaching Reading in the district I currently teach in. In preparation for this potential implementation and also for use during this transition time, the district purchased all teachers (classroom, SPED, ELL, and more . . .) The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo.  

Until I came into this district I had never even heard of Serravallo and little did I know that she has done a ton of work with Lucy and The Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project as well as written numerous other texts that support the implementation of a Reader’s Workshop model.   

The Reading Strategies Book makes conferring, goal-setting, and strategy groups so EASY.  Serravallo says:
“For years I’ve been getting emails almost daily asking, 'Isn’t there a book of the strategies themselves?' Now there is. Strategies make the often invisible work of reading actionable and visible. In The Reading Strategies Book, I collected 300 strategies to share with readers in support of thirteen goals-everything from fluency to literary analysis. Each strategy is cross-linked to skills, genres, and Fountas and Pinnell reading levels to give you just-right teaching, just in time.”

Recently I began coaching in a fifth grade classroom, supporting the teacher with the initial work of setting up a reader’s workshop.  A big hurdle to overcome was getting the routine in place in order to make time for meaningful conferring. Once this happened and we began conferring last week, the bigger question became, “How do I know what goals to set with students?” and “How do I know if it is the right one?” This is where Serravallo’s The Reading Strategies Book comes in.  Each of the thirteen goals within the text has a chapter with a brief, but detailed explanation about who the goal would be best suited for.  With this information in hand and the thirteen goals on a list right next to us when conferring, we were able to very easily select a goal with the student based off of the student’s oral reading behaviors and our conversations. We then recorded each student’s goal on a class list and organized them based on the goal. With the ease of the way Serravallo’s book is set up, we will easily be able to select the strategies we need to teach in order to achieve the goals and will be able to get started right away. 

I highly recommend, any teacher of reading, check this book out.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Engaging Families

Barb Novak contributed today's post.

I don't have any children. My friends have hoards of them, though, and they are all reaching school age. I get fiercer than I ever would have imagined when I hear about how the kids are doing in school.

Two weeks ago a friend was asking me how her son could be in what his teacher described as the "lowest" reading group but still be meeting expectations for his grade-level.

A week ago a friend asked me why the books her daughter is bringing home are the same level as what she was bringing home in spring.

A few days ago a friend wanted to know my thoughts on having her child independently evaluated for a learning disability.

This has gotten me thinking about how we communicate with families about how we teach and assess reading.

  • How do we communicate about what kids need to learn?
  • How do we communicate about instructional practices?
  • How do we communicate about assessment results?
  • How do we communicate about what families want for their children?
  • How can families ask questions?
I'm curious. How are you engaging families around reading?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Be Better

Andrea Reichenberger contributed today's thinking.

As a fairly new member (and huge fan) of the Fox Valley Writing Project (FVWP), I love that I am able to connect with teachers who are excited about learning from their colleagues, want to learn, and want to be better. One clarification, the FVWP isn’t just about writing; in fact, as part of the National Writing Project, it refuses to define itself as any ONE THING.  It’s about learning, sharing, reflecting, and honoring teacher leadership.

After some great discussions at our gathering last week, I was saddened to hear about my Fox Valley Writing Project peers’ struggle to drum up interest from their colleagues. It is difficult for me to grasp as I as so thankful to be exposed to such a wealth of knowledge together in one room at the same time. Our rich discussions and sharing of ideas have been invaluable. Basically, we’ve created our own true Professional Learning Community.

Reflecting always leads me to questions, many of which I struggle to answer, but apply to many districts in which I have worked or consulted.

  • Why wouldn’t we model ourselves as learners for our students? What is our ultimate reason for choosing this profession? Who are we here for?

  • Why don’t ALL teachers want to learn and be better?  What are our excuses for not trying to learn?  What’s getting in the way? How can we remove any obstacles?.

  • Did we begin to abuse the label of Professional Learning Community (PLC) (as we often do with other labels in education) and cause the term to become meaningless? Is it now a cause of contention in some of our schools? If so, how can we change that?

  • Who should we trust as the experts? How can professional learning communities be used to honor and develop educator expertise (as labs for action research) instead of turning to other experts (or kits and scripts) to tell us what to do?

  • When we recognize that our teachers are struggling, how do we, as instructional leaders, help coach and lead them toward success with the right tools and resources to improve their instruction? How do we send the message that it’s okay to struggle and that we are here to help you? How do we provide meaningful and appropriate feedback?

  • How can our system promote the need for and allow teachers the time to have professional conversations, create common assessments, dig into the data, or just to learn from and plan together?  When we start to take this step, will it rebuild the trust we used to place in our teachers?

  • How can we be more patient?  Change takes time and persistence; however, some changes are more urgent and not making them can do more damage than good.  How do we prioritize?

  • Does being too comfortable lead us into to deeper chasms that put us further behind rather than move us forward?

  • Are we promoting the mentality that because this the way it has always been done is a good enough reason to keep doing what we are doing?  Do we just want to be good enough or do we want to continue to strive to be better?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers--only more questions.  The ultimate question being: what can we control? We CAN control and communicate the message or vision, but the vision needs to have a clear purpose. We can also control the expectation. We can model our own learning and inquiry from investigating, listening, and asking the questions. We can control making the effort, providing the resources, and being willing to have the crucial conversations. We can seek out and create experiences, such as the Fox Valley Writing Project, or form our own PLC.  We can control whether or not we want to be better teachers for our students.