Beliefs and Practices


“When teachers truly inquire, they grow new beliefs.”  Heidi Mills and Tim O’Keefe


In their essay, Why Beliefs Matter, Heidi Mills and Tim O’Keefe, write “if we are deliberately growing and changing as professionals, our cutting edge beliefs are often ahead of our practices.  We grow new beliefs and then strive to live into them.”

I believe in inquiry.  I believe in staying curious. I believe in risk taking.  I believe in teacher research.  I believe in generating energy through research.

Much of my career has been rooted in these beliefs.  Over 26 years, there have been years where my practices lived up to the beliefs and years when my beliefs were not quite so obvious in my practices.

This year, thanks to Twitter, Two Writing Teachers, and my writing research group, Joy Writers, my beliefs are not only evident, but alive, in my practices.

In 2001, Don Graves published The Energy to Teach.  He wrote an invitation to teachers51cDllE4QTL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_ who were seeking to build energy with colleagues.  He suggested that teachers take to “the Net” as “it can certainly serve as a source of enrichment and emotional release and affirmation.” Sixteen years ago, “the Net” and email were new resources that teachers, if they had access to a computer, could use to connect.  Now, in 2017, we have “the gift” of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more.  For me, it’s been Twitter. I have defined Twitter, as my social media account for professional purposes.  I have been able read and tweet.  I’ve found inspiration and I’ve found affirmation.  Sometimes, checking in with Twitter is the jolt I need to keep my energy up.

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers, I’ve reignited my passion for writing instruction. I’ve become a more dedicated writer.  I’ve always seen myself as a writer.  I’ve kept a journal for most of my career.  After Community of Teachers Learning meetings (a voluntary teacher research group), I’ve written memos to the staff.  I never wanted the group to be exclusive, so I wrote to include.  I always thought it a privilege and a challenge to write the memos.   I have embraced the Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.  Writing for Tuesdays has become part of my weekly routine.  If I am not actually writing, I am thinking about writing.  I am listening like a writer. I’m listening to the radio, to my inner voice, to conversations.  I am looking like a writer.  I am looking at my world, the people in my world.  Always listening and looking for ideas and how I might put those ideas to paper – in words or sketches.  I greet Tuesdays with a new light since starting my blog.  I post my blog on TWT and then on Twitter.  Then, I read.  Reading blogs serves as inspiration and affirmation. All this writing moves me towards becoming a better teacher of writers.

In the chapter, Build Energy with Colleagues (The Energy to Teach), Don Graves wrote, “ultimately we see beyond our own limited collegial relationship to the possibilities of an energy-given vision we an fulfill together.”  I have Joy Writers, our writing/research group,  to thank for embracing the question “What happens when a group of teachers reads Joy Write?”  As a result of this shared question, I have grown to believe that we are on our way to seeing the possibilities of an energy given vision we can fulfill together.”  Each week I am invited into three classrooms to research the role of Journals and the Greenbelt (Ralph Fletcher).  These invitation and these relationships are a gift.  We plan the choices.  We’ve come to see the pivotal role that structured choice plays a during Journal Time.   We watch each week as writers embrace their choice and demonstrate  engagement and attention.  Two habits that a writer must constantly nurture.  The time I spend in these classrooms feeds my curiosity.

So thank you, Two Writing Teachers, Twitter, and my Joy Writers – you are supporting my mission to have my practices reflect my beliefs one day at a time.


“it takes energy to get energy” The Energy to Teach, Don Graves


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