Her book THAT WORKSHOP BOOK is a powerful one. Through her work with teachers, she has discovered the power of workshop and the power of our planning and our talk with kids.
I can't begin to share all that I learned over the weekend.. Sitting by friends always helps too. So much conversation from our learning. I am sure our talk will continue based on what we learned. Instead of sharing everything I learned, I decided to share my "Top 10 Samantha Bennett Quotes." I could have shared a hundred but decided the Top 10 makes sense. These are my personal highlight quotes of the day. These were the quotes I will continue to use to push my own thinking.
TOP 10 SAMANTHA BENNETT QUOTES FROM THE WEEKEND
"It's loud. It's messy. It's really, really fun."
Samantha said this when talking about workshop and workshop planning. She makes no claims that workshop teaching is easy or neat. She knows that a good workshop is complex and that it takes huge planning. This quote sums it up well, I think.
"It's not about liking things."
"If you only do something for one reason, don't do it. You should be able to label things in multiple ways."
"Remove the layers of crust to what matter most. You see what matters most to her. My job is to help her get more of that."
"You can always get better, every minute of every day."
"They should not have to defend practice but we do want them to articulate it. Knowing what you are doing and why you are doing it every single minute of the day."
When we were ready to visit classrooms and Samantha was sharing the purpose, she was clear in saying that teachers in these classrooms did not need to defend their practice. We aren't there to judge it, but rather to learn from it. This philosophy would change so much about the way we talk to each other about our work. I think we, as teachers, often feel so under attack, that we get immediately defensive when asked about our practice. But being asked to articulate our practice is key to doing good work with kids. Articulating practice is something I try to get better at because it helps me as a learner. And it is good for the soul, I think. To know you are doing what you believe is right for kids.
"Stop asking what I am going to do tomorrow. Ask what students are going to do tomorrow. That should be the guiding question."
I loved this guiding question. So much of the day on Saturday was about the planning process and the need to teach for understanding. The belief that student work and learning is what we are about was a thread throughout the two days. This guiding question helps me to think a little differently when I plan. Keeping my eye on what kids will be doing is key.
"Kids knowing why they're there, every minute of every day."
Just as we have to make every minute worthwhile, it is critical that kids know the purpose of everything they are doing, everything that we are asking them to do. Kids have to own that learning so that every minute of every day piece is so important. A good measure to hold ourselves accountable to, I think.
"When kids are telling you no, listen. There is a reason they are telling you no. And you better figure it out. Take their reluctance seriously. What does this kid need that he is not getting?"
This was such a powerful thing to think about. When I think about kids who are not willing to do the work, kids who act out rather than take a risk, etc. this is something to remember. What does this kid need that he/she is not getting? Instead of blaming the child, this is about taking ownership that a child's reluctance is something we need to listen closely to.
"Unless you release kids to work, there is zero way to differentiate."
As you can tell, it was a great workshop. I hope to get a chance to learn from Samantha Bennett again soon. Very inspiring and powerful.