April 29, 2016
For years, I have viewed other professionals as mentors. My first mentor was Regie Routman in Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need to Teach Reading Well. I felt as though she was speaking directly to me, peering over my shoulder in my classroom and gently nudging me to look differently at my teaching practices. She mentored me with her research, her experience, and a particularly poignant story on reading response.
In my recollection, Regie said that after finishing a book, she never once turned to her husband and said, "That was so good! I can't wait to run downstairs and make a diorama." So why do we ask children to do this inauthentic task? I was shocked and embarrassed, because I was doing just that: asking students to create dioramas in response to their books.
Regie forced me to be reflective and to examine my practice, and she pushed my thinking. It is a practice that continues to this day, through books, conferences, and relationships with colleagues who are invited into my life to help me refine and fine-tune my teaching. It's when I begin to hear the voices of my mentors in my head that I start to see their beliefs become my own and to see those beliefs being practiced in my own work.
I recently heard Laura Robb, Steven Layne and Judy Willis MD speak, and you guessed it, I have three new mentors. How about you? Who is helping you refine your practice? Head over to the Discussion Board and let us know. We love learning from you, too.
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