Monday, November 26, 2007

Debbie Miller

Lately I have been rereading sections of professional books to help get me through this making connections portion of my reader's workshop. The best book of all from a first grade teacher's perspective has got to be Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning. I recently reread the introduction and the chapter about making connections to prepare myself. One thing that caught my eye was the uneasiness that Debbie used to feel prior to her knowledge about the seven comprehension strategies. She talks about how parents would approach her and ask her if she was whole language vs. phonics, or how she felt about invented spelling vs. spelling. She always felt like she was being backed into a corner.
Now, she knows what she believes and why she believes it. She has a response to their interrogating questions. She challenges teachers to read, reflect, read some more, ask questions, and develop their beliefs. Today I was asked if I would help others with certain components of our literacy model. I answered affirmatively that of course I will help. However, as the day went on and I mulled it over...
-I've come a long way, by taking my own initiative to grow and learn.
-It can't be learned in minutes, hours, or days.
-There has to be a willingness to understand that this can help children, a drive to want to do what's best.
-Attitudes must change!

I know why I do what I do in my classroom. I have read, reflected, reread, asked questions, formed a community of teachers learning too, asked more questions, watched tapes, read again, and reflected some more. Debbie Miller has taught me that when I am confident in my own means of educating students, because I have studied best practices, then others will not question what I do. They will trust and believe my thoughts and ideas. Notice I said, "because I have studied best practices." You can't make this stuff up, you can't fly by the seat of your pants, you can't sum up what you do in minutes. This is where I am coming from... do you have the same drive?
I guess I am willing to help but I want to help those that are willing to pick up and help themselves, because the children are waiting.


Jen Barney said...

Sarah, know that it is always wonderful to talk with you and bounce ideas off you. Thank you for your thoughts and opinions!

AngelaTIC said...

Sarah, you are so right. It is because we read, write and think about our practice that we are able to do what we do well. There is no magic bullet. I have experienced the same frustrations. Thanks for putting my thoughts into such wonderfully well written words.

Katie Dicesare said...

Sarah, I hear you loud and clear!! Read, reread, experiment and be open to allowing beliefs to form and be reformed. Doesn't it all come back to Debbie? She has really influenced my beliefs as well.

Megan said...

Sarah, I know we don't know each other, but I stumbled upon your blog while searching for more information on Debbie Miller. I am reading (devouring) her book Reading with Meaning and it has changed things for the better in my classroom. I absolutely wish that others in my district would devour a book and apply it to their classrooms and use best practices, but much like you have said, I think they're waiting for the easy way. I am one of only a few who is trying to encourage our district to NOT purchase a basal series. Every time I read something about teachers doing the "hard" thing; researching, reading, applying new strategies, analyzing, assessing their students' needs - it inspires me to keep fighting for what I know is right!