Thank you Cathy for hosting this PD online around the book: Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. I remember devouring Choice Words and really beginning to think deeply about how my language can impact, first, my own children. They are always the guinea pigs for me and the practice before the classroom.
After reading chapters 1-3, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Johnston. His research and beliefs about the impact of language in almost spiritual for me (especially the pages on praise when reminded that praise is about us vs. the children). There were a few places in these first few chapters where I tagged the pages with little post-it flags (that I drew a heart upon) signaling my love for the explanation of his thinking.
1) My first flag appeared on page 14 when Johnston begins to dig deeper into explaining the fixed and dynamic learning frames. On this page, I began to synthesize what he was saying into my own understanding: We have to teach children the value in learning and perseverance; not in feeling smart and achieving the highest test score. While I believe this, executing it with supporting language will be the challenge for me. I began to look forward to learning more.
2) On page 18, I also flagged the line describing how dynamic learners work toward improving the group relationship:
"When people are trying to learn something together and they disagree, dynamic-learning theorists focus on the conflict in ideas and try to integrate their different perspectives. In the process, each develops a more positive view of his or her partner's ability."
This section hit home because I began to think about the importance of modeling. What kind of language will allow me to do this? What do I say now and how will that change this year?
3) In chapter 3 I began to write ideas for language prompts that will support my students in the classroom. I love to draw on expert teachers and learn from them. Pegeen and Susie certainly know how to honor children and their ideas. On top of each page I found myself collecting phrases that support the dynamic learning frame and rereading them to solidify them in my brain. Here are a few I collected:
You have learned so much!
He just made a bad choice, don't you think. Not a bad guy, just made a decision with out considering others.
Look how you figured that out! you made a plan, you listened to one another...
How did you do that?
How did you know that?
Thanks for teaching us that.
Are you ready to get started?Do you have a plan?You don't need to tell me your plan. I might be able to figure out your plan from your behavior.
This book is reminding me again that so much of our work in the classroom has to be selfless. The work that goes into begin selfless can be hard and takes practice. Kids come first.