For the next few weeks I will be participating in #CyberPD, a virtual book study group. You can find out more about #CyberPD here. I am excited to take part in this community of educators for the third year. This year we are reading and discussing Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed. I will be posting weekly reflections on the chapters we are reading. Like previous years, I anticipate the #CyberPD community will stretch my thinking and help me grow as a literacy educator.
Week One: Introduction and Chapters One & Two
Teachers make a difference in lives of learners every day. They have an impact on the learners in their classrooms who will then go out into the world and take part in shaping our future. We are social beings and relationships are at the heart of what it means to be an active participant in the world. It is essential that learners have the social comprehension skills to relate to others in a diverse society, one in which perspectives differ, and navigate a world that is fraught with challenges and is always changing. Teachers can make a conscious effort to put these comprehension skills in learners' hands. That is the focus of this book. If we don't teach these skills, can we feel confident that our learners will develop them? Is that a risk we want to take?
Chapter One of the book includes lessons to help learners explore their identities. The goals being to honor learners, build connections, and help learners position themselves as individuals who exist alongside a world of others. Each of the lessons is valuable as students develop a sense of self and respect for those around them. One of the lessons, "Placing Ourselves in the World," involves learners in an exploration of their names. This is a lesson that will help students discover something about themselves and learn more about their peers. In addition to the books referenced that could be used to introduce this lesson, I think Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal would be a useful book to explore this concept.
Chapter Two of the book discusses how to teach students to be active listeners. I know many adults, including myself, at times, who could continue to improve upon their listening skills, so I believe this is something that our learners should be explicitly taught. As with many skills and strategies that we want learners to develop, modeling and noticing and naming what happens when engaged in the skill or strategy can be an effective teaching practice. Teaching listening skills in this way lends authenticity to lessons and will help learners internalize the behaviors necessary for active listening.
From my reading of the first two chapters of this book, I am finding the lessons relevant, practical, and engaging. I look forward to next week's reading, Chapters Three and Four.