Teachers for Teachers | Mentor Teaching Moves: A Secret of Change #T4TMoments
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Mentor Teaching Moves: A Secret of Change #T4TMoments

“Organizations need to address their core goals and practices with relentless consistency, while at the same time learning continuously how to get better and better at what they are doing. Consistency in core practices and key language is essential to the change process.”                                                             The Six Secrets of Change, 2008

Recently we have been talking with faculties about the key language that is used in their literacy model.  Teachers identified the following core practices and key language as inconsistent.  There were as many as four or five different terms for these:

—Turn and Talk

—Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop


—Small Group


—Book Clubs

—Independent Reading

—Book baskets/bins/box/bags

—Book Shopping

—Mentor Texts

—Trick word, high-frequency words, words

—Track your thinking


—Traditional Tales

—Reading/Writing strategies

—Reading partners

—Shared Reading

—Stamina – reading/writing muscles

—Just fit or right books

These discrepancies may seem minor, but from a student’s point of view they are confusing and can impact the speed of change. If districts identify core goals and practices and seek “relentless consistency” from kindergarten through sixth grade, then both teachers and students could spend more time for the “new learning required for continuous improvement.”

In the name of “teacher voice or creativity,” some students have to learn a new academic language each year in order to navigate the waters of new classrooms. This new academic language is in addition to the content language they need to learn, as well as a second or third language for English language learners. We need to think about how we can make our instruction more accessible to students. If we continually change the language of core practices, it is difficult for them to achieve quick and lasting academic growth.

We always want to create cultures that empower teachers, but we also want to enhance the clarity of instruction. These teachers discussed the language and decided on a consistent term to use throughout the elementary grades. When we use common language around key concepts and strategies over a period of years, across an entire school or district, it helps our students activate their background knowledge and move more quickly into learning how to use what we are teaching them in increasingly sophisticated ways.  Taking the time to ensure a cohesive, consistent instructional and curricular experience for students is a mentor teaching move.

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