Teacher Research 2020-2021: Reading Identity

All year long as a teacher researcher,
I read….

  • Donald Graves and heard him saying (from his book A Sea of Faces), “While I am learning the names, I am also engaged in finding three nouns that will characterize each child. I may also choose three verbs that create pictures of what the child does. When children know that I want to get to know them alone and together, the community begins to grow.”
  • Sara Ahmed (from her book Being the Change) and heard her say to make an Identity Web, share it your students and invite them to make theirs. Use these webs as a way to get to know each other and value all our unique identities.
  • Dr. Rudine Sims Bisphop (RIF newsletter) and heard her saying, “They (dominiate social groups) need books that help them understand the multicultural mature of the world they live in, and their place as a member of just one group, as well as their connections to all other humans.” and knew as a white, suburban woman she was pushing me to read more “window” books.

All year long as a teacher researcher,
I met my 92 middle school students across 5 classes first only online and then in March some in-person at the same time as all the rest were at home online. I created the list of their names and made a point to meet each one-on-one in a breakout room. I also created interest surveys using Google forms. “Tell me the kind of books you like to read,” I’d ask. “Tell me about your family. Who do you live with?” “Tell me how you spend your time outside of school.” I started to know my students as Donald Graves taught me. I now had nouns listed next to their name – ice skater, Muslim, mom’s from Chile, soccer, speaks Spanish, speaks Arabic, celebrates Hanukkah. I then could recommend “mirror” books for them to read.

All year long as a teacher researcher,
I reflected on my identity as suggested by Sara Ahmed. Twice, once during the first week of school and once when the 2nd semester began, I showed them my identity web and I asked them to make theirs. I treated this information like it was gold and used it to recommend books to students. “You like soccer. Have you read Tangerine?” “You are Jewish. So is the main character in Becoming Briana“. As this school year is approaching the end, I spent this weekend with 92 printed out identity webs in front of me. I studied them. I used the words at the edges of these webs to create this PADLET recommending books to read this summer. I am endng the year focused on what’s most important about my students, their identities, as Sara taught me.

All year long as a teacher researcher,
I personally and purposefully read “window” books as suggested by Dr. Bishop. I chose books about characters who physically look nothing like me. Some stories took place now and some, many years ago. All helped widen my eyes. All helped me to know more. As Maya Angelo says, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I believe the many window books I read this year will help me to do better. It was important to me to do this window reading. While doing it, I shared and was a model for my students. It is important to me for books to be both a way to see ourself, as in a mirror book and to see others as in a “window” book. I am proud of my reading life this school year.

Here’s my year as a teacher researcher in a slideshow story of images:

What have you researched recently?
What might be your next year’s research question?
As a teacher researcher, I discovered LOTS
and in turn, my students are better for all my learning!

10 thoughts on “Teacher Research 2020-2021: Reading Identity

  1. Ms Victor Reads says:

    I love that you used their interests to create your recommendation Padlet! You are always so purposeful and I enjoyed reading about how these three influencers shaped you as a reader and teacher this year! I wish we had easy access to English books here so that I could recommend even more books to my students:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Denise Krebs says:

    Wow, Sally, what a spectacular post. I have begun some teacher research here with this post today. To tell you the truth, when I read this: “I met my 92 middle school students across 5 classes first only online and then in March some in-person at the same time as all the rest were at home online.” I thought you were going to say, so how can I ever get to know my students? Instead you explained how you managed to do it, and having one-on-one breakout times with them is amazing.

    And the identity maps–super. I love the Padlet with all the book choices, and how you say, “If you are of Mongolian heritage” “…or you want to learn more about Mongolia.” etc., etc., etc. It’s special that it is geared specifically to who your 92 are. Brava! Congratulations on reading window books all year too. What a worthy goal!

    Next year, I am continuing research in teaching English to speakers of other languages, which I’m studying now and hope to continue teaching in the field.


  3. mgminer says:

    I wonder how many times I have left you a comment with the word “Brilliant!” I love how you framed your teacher research on the shoulders of Donald Graves. What a great human being and educator he was. Your energy, even after this challenging year, is inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s