The following post is reprinted with permission from NCTE member Amy Rasmussen. It comes from her April 21, 2015 post on Three Teachers Talk.
Now, that is the way to walk the talk.
I attended a Vocal Majority concert Saturday. This is one awesome men’s chorus. When the emcee introduced a quartet, I sat up a bit. There, singing with The Essentials was the choir director from my high school. Wow, what a voice.
As he sang, I kept thinking: There is a teacher who walks the walk. His presence on the stage, singing first in a group, then in a quartet, and later even as a soloist, shows that he knows exactly what his students must do — and feel — when they engage in activities and performances in the LHS choir.
Credibility is huge.
I think about this as I talk with other English teachers. I should stop being surprised when I learn that they do not read — “unless it’s a book I’m about to teach, of course.”
I’ve heard that more than once.
Perhaps even a bigger concern than not reading: many English teachers are not writers.
The thing that has helped me be a better writing instructor — not attending conferences or classes, not reading pedagogy books — the single most thing that’s improved my ability to teach writing: Becoming a writer myself.
I understand the struggle to think of ideas, the headache of revision, the joy of finally getting something right. My students need to know that I know what all of this feels like.
Like my colleague the choir teacher, I try to walk the walk of my content. I am an individual intent on improving my literacy skills, just like I want my students to be. I talk about my reading life, and I share my writing life with my students, regularly.
I think they trust me more because they know I read as much as I ask them to read. I write as much as I ask them to write, and every major assignment I give to them I write myself (plus this blog and a book I’ve been working on for awhile now.) I even write blog posts about improving my writing: 5 Ways to Meet Your Writing Goals.
It is not hard to have credibility. But it does take commitment.
A couple of weeks ago, i joined in a #litlead chat. The topic turned to teacher-bloggers and why and how to become one. A few participants in that discussion spoke out and said they were nervous about starting their own blogs, but they know it is a good idea. I’m sure their reasons for wanting to blog are varied, but there are three possible truths:
Teachers who blog are more likely to 1) reflect on their practices, 2) seek out new ideas for topics to write about, 3) show their students that they practice the craft of writing — like they hope their students will do.
I offered to let those nervous about blogging to wade it a little and publish a piece here at Three Teachers Talk. One stipulation: You have to be an advocate for readers and writers workshop. (That is the main topic of this blog after all.)
So think about it: Do you walk the talk and walk the walk? Do your students see you as an adult with passion for your content outside the classroom walls?
Would you like to write a guest post? Send me an email with your idea, and I’ll respond and set up a date. (amyprasmussen@)
I’d like to help you walk a better walk.
©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015