The first phrase in this quote, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!” from Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg has been on my mind a lot, lately. For me, the quote rings true… and then is quickly reversed… in many situations. Rather than talking about an elephant’s faithfulness, the quote coming from me would sound more like, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. But then I changed my mind.”
Avoiding Conflict I don’t often take a stand – I’m a “I sit on the fence on that issue…” kinda’ gal. This is frustrating to me; I’m often jealous of those who know exactly where they stand on every issue. I think my reason for “sitting on the fence” is sometimes a result of wanting to make sure everyone is happy; It also results from a fear of being run-over – I often feel inadequate in my knowledge on a topic, so I’m not willing to engage in discourse about it. I know that I’ll “lose.” In addition, I avoid conflict at all costs (not a word, Bill Kruse!)
As it Relates to Instructional Coaching In my role as a literacy instructional coach, I am often asked to share my opinion on a range of topics. Most often, the opinions I offer are based on the knowledge I’ve gained from reading and watching anything connected to the Science of Reading. Sometimes, my opinion is based on my own personal experience in the classroom. Sometimes, I have little knowledge of the topic at hand, so I share what my “knee-jerk” thoughts are, or I might simply say, “I don’t know.” I may change my mind about something I’ve said within as quickly as within a 24 hour time span. I used to feel inadequate or too wishy-washy if I changed my mind. I’m evolving into getting rid of feelings of inadequacy into just recognizing that with more information, a girl can change her mind!
As it Relates to a Pandemic I recently saw a question posted on social media that went something like this: “Reply if you got something wrong about Covid.” This is a perfect example of my point in writing this post. My guess is that every person on the planet has changed their thinking around Covid. Some thinking has changed as a result of personal experiences, some from the influence of social media, some from news organizations, and some from a “I’m so over it,” attitude about the pandemic. As new information has been gathered since the day Covid invaded our planet, we have learned more and reacted differently. In the health and science world, the thinking around Covid has changed as a result of evidence collected. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make informed hypotheses based on the information they have, they continue to collect data, and they alter their recommendations based on the most current data. Their recommendations have evolved from January of 2020 to March of 2020 to March of 2021 to October of 2021. And they will continue to evolve.
As it Relates to My Children I used to think that college was the best path for our boys. From the day they were born, I thought all three of them would go to college. We are currently 0 for 3 on that front. Elton went to work for Carl A. Nelson right out of high school and is now running his own business, Kruse Concrete Construction. Owen went to work for Mohrfeld Electric upon graduation, and is perfectly happy with his employment there. Emmett, a junior in high school, is interested in a career in the military. Emmett is my last hope for seeing one of our kids take that college pathway, via the military. As I mentioned last week, he doesn’t enjoy school, so the thought of college is not appealing, but he is considering it as a means to attaining Officer status. As new information has come in (Elton and Owen are successful, hardworking, and happy in their current career paths), I have altered my thinking about college being the best path for them.
As It Relates to Reading Instruction In the education world, I’ve taken lots of “stands” over the years. And I have found, over time, that where I stood three (or one or five or twenty) years ago is different than where I stand today. For far too many years, my belief about reading instruction centered on, “If you (parents and teachers) just read to kids, they will learn to love reading.” and “If we ask kids to do tasks that are too difficult, we will burn them out.” and “If we don’t connect everything we are teaching to something kids already know, it won’t land with them.” and “Phonics is boring, and will make kids hate reading.” and “Boxed curriculums are tedious, boring, and don’t connect with kids.”
And then I read my first Emily Hanford article. And the second. And the third. I began faithfully reading Tim Shanahan’s blog. I started following The Reading League. I became addicted to Amplify’s Science of Reading: The Podcast. Shortly after, I became addicted to The Reading League’s Teaching Reading & Learning podcast. I connected with groups and individuals on social media that put out reliable, evidence-based information about effective literacy instruction. I started following everything released by Curriculum Matters. Let’s just say that my thinking about effective literacy instruction has changed almost entirely.
As it turns out, this change in thinking is merely a reflection of personal and professional growth, not necessarily of inadequacy or being too wishy-washy. My core values remain intact, and have allowed me to remain curious and humble enough to admit when I’m wrong (sometimes!), and oh-so-grateful for the knowledge base that has accumulated around effective literacy instruction. Two recent podcast episodes have highlighted the fact that even the experts change their minds as new information comes in. And thank goodness they do!
Dr. Julie Washington On Episode 7, Season 4, of Amplify’s Science of Reading: The Podcast, Dr. Julie Washington discusses the fact that she does not necessarily say the same thing today as she did just three years ago. She and host, Susan Lambert, talk about “shifting the terminology” when it comes to teaching students with dialects. Specifically, they “…discuss linguistic variety and dialects as difference, not error, and how to best support all students as they learn to read.” My favorite part of the episode comes about 27 minutes in when Susan Lambert says, “You are on a journey of understanding” as a researcher, just like the rest of us. Washington replies, “I’ve said my whole career that if I get to a point where I think I actually know the answer, it’s time to retire….There’s so much more to learn.”
Dr. Jan Hasbrouck During information-packed Episode 14 of The Reading League’s Teaching Reading & Learning podcast, Dr. Jan Hasbrouck discusses the same thing: she doesn’t necessarily say the same things that she always has, because new data that has come in constitutes a need to change. She also talks with host, Laura Stewart, about the importance of collaboration, curiosity, and humility as a way to ensure “…every student becomes a skilled and confident reader.” In addition, she and Laura discuss the importance of getting accurate information about effective literacy instruction into the hands of teachers now. Dr. Hasbrouck acknowledges that she was fortunate to come across much of this information as a 19 year old, but there are still instances where she didn’t, or doesn’t, have it all figured out. “But I continue to learn. I look back and I say, ‘Oh, I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I had said this differently’… When you know better, you do better.” Thank you for these golden nuggets, Dr. Hasbrouck!
Get to the Point, Please! This whole post is just a really long way of saying what I wrote in the opening paragraph, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. But then I changed my mind.”