Currently a department co-chair and co-director with the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project, Brian Kelley has taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade for over twenty years.

[Podcast] Broadcast Yourself [Pt.1/2]

[Podcast] Broadcast Yourself [Pt.1/2]

Conferring with Jay, I am reminded that the most meaningful feedback is given from the student to teacher. By that, I mean that the teacher encourages the students to think and share the decisions he makes with his reading and writing. Through the act of speaking it, the student is able to understand it and then, theoretically, decide what he is to do next. The teacher serves as a mentor, not a judge.

This conference with Jay started like so many others. He loves reading, but it slowed down a bit for a few years. Now that he is older, sports & activities take up a lot of time. 

After a class discussion on making a plan for adding reading back into our lives, Jay disciplines himself to bring a book with him in the car and he schedules reading for himself on weekends.

For teachers, what kids do outside of the classroom should matter as much as what they do inside of the classroom. But we can rarely understand what they do unless we ask. And unless we listen.

And this is where Jay's conference turned on a dime. 

Jay discussed the pull of social media--more specifically Instagram. On the one hand, it is a time-waster. And he walks away from it feeling frustrated. Yet, he keeps returning to it. I have been reading about how people might be addicted to their phones or, at the very least, developing a fear of missing out. We return to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram because we crave connections with friends, acquaintances, mentors, the news...or even sources of entertainment.

Jay is giving me a lot to think about the role of social media in the lives of adolescents--and the impact it might be having on their reading and writing lives. It is tempting to say that social media is harmful...yet, as a tool, kids write on it. And by social media I am including texting.

This brings up challenging the challenging question: is this really writing?

While I am still thinking...this is certainly and exercise in long thinking...I think it is writing. Maybe not academic writing, but I am thinking about what gains can be made through all of this writing? And I am also thinking about (and listening to) what gets mortgaged with all of this digital contact.

In Part 2 (to be published on Friday), Jay takes me back to YouTube...and the revelations only add to the challenges of how teachers and parents help adolescents manage the good in social media while mentoring them away from the erosive qualities.

Sometimes the most meaningful feedback is not what we say to a student, it is what we hear from a student.

[Podcast] Broadcast Yourself [Pt. 2/2]

[Podcast] Broadcast Yourself [Pt. 2/2]

[Podcast] In the Presence of a Writer

[Podcast] In the Presence of a Writer