During a recent Instructional Improvement Block meeting, I had the staff read the first chapter of Katie Wood Ray's What You Know by Heart: How to Develop Curriculum for Your Writing Workshop. As we were all engrossed in our reading, I realized that what I know by heart today is a lot more than I knew a year ago. Why? I realized that I am seeing writing through a new lens.
I have found that as I have become a more avid reader and have begun to write, I am much more critical of the pieces I read and write. I make mental notes as I read, such as thinking about the choices the writer made. Things such as the use of words and descriptions that may transport me to another time and place or the point of view the person is writing from have begun to stand out. I am beginning to focus more on the author's craft and style and the implications the choices have for the reader. I have increased my reading tremendously over the course of the past year in an intentional attempt to become the lead reader in my building. I wanted to become more knowledgeable about books so that I could make connections to curriculum and recommend books to my students and staff. I also wanted to model good reading habits for them. In the process, I have been inspired to become a writer as well--especially as we move toward creating a writing curriculum for our building. I am still a novice writer who continues to learn, but I am much more willing to take risks and put myself out there. This comes from practicing writing more than I have ever done in my professional life. All of these experiences have allowed me to see reading and writing in new ways. Ways that I didn't notice before. I am excited about this new lens and the implications of my improved vision as an instructional leader.