Learning from Mentors


SOL- December 8, 2015

Learning from Mentors

Here I sit- another week where I have failed to plan ahead and have a slice ready to go (I swear I do lots of planning and prewriting in my head, but nowhere near enough writing on the page, where it counts!). I was struggling to come up with a topic- my brain is slightly fried after finishing my own reports and revising and editing for colleagues over the last few days. So I thought back to my day.

A highlight of my days these last few weeks has been our Mock Caldecott unit. It is not an official part of our Language Arts curriculum, but just something I squeeze in during November and December the last few years. This year (as I have mentioned in previous posts) I took my list from @MrSchuReads and @ColbySharp. Sharing these books with my students has been a labor of love- it has been so rewarding to see their appreciation of the books, their growing knowledge, and the level of discussions we have. Today we shared #20 out of the 22 we will share, A Fine Dessert. When I read the book we talked a bit about the controversy about the book and its representation of slavery. The students talked about the history of slavery in their home countries and how glad they were that they did not face this in their lives today. It struck me that I was glad that I knew about the questions the book had raised because without that knowledge I may have missed that point and we all would have missed the resulting dialogue. I love that I learn from colleagues  near and far (thank you, Twitter), which led me to think of mentors. This school year has been one where I have thought about mentors a lot- mostly because some of us at school are piloting the Reading and Writing Units of Study from TCRWP, so I am looking at mentor texts with fresh eyes.

Mentors for me in literacy include (but are not limited to):

People I work with now:

Heather- our ELA coach- she has so much to offer us in terms of ideas and experience and she is so very patient and open

Gina- the EAL support teacher for grade 3- I am so very lucky to work with her- she has the skill needed to work with our English language learners and support them in just the right way to help them grow- is full of ideas and adds so much to the classroom dynamic

People I have worked with in the past:

Lisa- a champion of reader/writer workshop and someone who always was ready to go to the next level- I miss our daily contact

People I mostly know online:

The Nerdy Book Club community (really the first “place” I knew that PLN really meant something

Two Writing Teachers blog- I get great ideas here almost every day

TCRWP (and their Facebook pages)- So much wisdom here

My building block mentors: Ellin Keane, Stephanie Harvey, Anne Goudvis, Fountas and Pinnell, Ralph Fletcher, Tanny McGregor, Jennifer Serravallo and so many more!

The authors and illustrators who share their stories. I am so lucky to have these assistant teachers every day. We talk about them as if we know them all personally. I love using their work as mentors for the third grade readers and writers in our class.

It is so amazing to have all of these mentors in class with me each day. really feel like they are teaching right along with me. They have helped to form me as a teacher and I only hope to pass on a bit of the wisdom they have sent my way.

Today I am very grateful that although sometimes I can feel very alone, I know these mentors are with me as I teach.

10 thoughts on “Learning from Mentors

  1. Love your list of mentors!! To help me I have hanging in the back of the room up high for me to notice, photos of Lucy, Ellin, Carl, Kathleen Tolan, Jen S and Cornelius Minor with a quote by them. It reminds me that I am not alone in this great work I am trying to do!

    AlsoI really do want to connect with you and your students. I bought an extra clock to hang so we can see what time it is where you live. Over break, I will be in touch so we can be ready for March!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today. I can relate to all of it. I have not been consistent in posting and keep thinking I will get something ready to post before hand. However, here we are on Tuesday, and I don’t have anything.

    I love using mentor books and I keep reminding our teachers not to be afraid to learn not just from books but from one another. My writing mentors are: Calkins, Katie WoodRay, C.Anderson, J.Anderson, my good friend and mentor Tina.

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