This is what happens when teachers TRIP

At a recent physical, my doctor answered my question with “I’ll have to Google that.”  Surprised and slightly amused, my post-physical research led me to the Turning Research Into Practice (TRIP) database for medical professionals. From TRIP’s website: “Trip is a clinical search engine designed to allow users to quickly and easily find and use high-quality research evidence to support their practice and/or care.”

Imagine the equivalent tool for educators. Search for your pedagogical ills, and receive a wealth of data, student work samples and teacher testimonials for stuff that works. I propose a, perhaps less exciting, but easy-to-implement TRIP acronym for educators:

Turning Reading into Pedagogy

We teachers are responsible for our own “TRIPping,” and it begins with quality professional learning, self-guided or in a group. Self-guided professional learning is growing, with a wealth of online books and articles, Twitter chats, and increasingly, online PD courses for educators.

The TRIP process for teacher PD involves experiencing professional learning and using the learning immediately. Then we can reflect on our teaching, and do one of two things:

  1. Determine if the ideas improve student learning
  2. Adapt the ideas for our style and/or situation

We can even extend the TRIP model to create our own professional development toolkits. This involves deciding on the goals of the year, or individual units and lessons, then selecting the resources that we believe will help us to achieve those goals.  Focus primarily, even entirely, on those resources and how they affect your teaching.

Your counter-argument is loud and clear: But what about all the other ideas, books and cool things I can learn about? How do I deal with this teacher FOMO?

Yes, for the teacher dedicated to lifelong learning, there is a always a new buzzword to explore, especially in the Twittersphere. However, if we chase every interesting idea, we are more likely to miss out on the focused learning and reflection that ultimately leads to improvement.

Here are the professional development resources that I’m TRIPping over this year.

Falling in Love With Close Reading by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts: I’ll be deliberately revisiting certain chapters, referencing and borrowing from the templates they mentioned and thinking about the philosophy of the book as a whole. The authors do a good job of saying “no” to lots of close reading shiny objects in favor a few simple concepts. This simplicity makes it more likely that students will understand the learning goals of our lessons, and ultimately learn more.

Essential chapters I’ll TRIP over:

  • Chapter on close reading for structure
  • Chapter on letting the text dictate where our close reading takes us

Whole Novels for the Whole Class by Ariel Sacks: Teaching the whole class novel is one of the most complex tasks for me as a teacher, not just practically, but philosophically.  It is essential that we balance fostering appreciation of texts and independence as readers with the hard work of studying great works of literature and discussing them together. Sacks self-proclaimed “student-centered approach” to teaching the whole novel is one that I’ll revisit whenever teaching a whole class text.

Essential chapters I’ll TRIP over:

  • Chapter on introducing whole class novels
  • Chapter on projects

Deeper Reading by Kelly Gallagher: This older work from Mr. Gallagher is so helpful when teaching whole class texts. As my school’s curriculum changes this year to include more shared reads, this will be invaluable for getting students ready to read, guiding them through reading, and helping them achieve, yes, deeper reading.

Essential chapters I’ll TRIP over:

  • Chapter on strategies during reading
  • Chapter on using collaboration to deepen comprehension

Lessons that Change Writers by Nancie Atwell: this tome should rest on the shelf of every literacy teacher. Atwell achieves maximum practicality for teachers in this book by providing an accompanying three-ringed binder with hundreds of handouts for essential writing workshop mini-lessons. The lessons are described in detail in the book, and teachers can use Atwell’s scripts or modify the resources for their own needs. If you teach writing and don’t have this, get it.

Essential chapters I’ll TRIP over:

  • Chapter on organizing expository essays
  • Chapter on developing narrative leads

This process of choosing a few professional texts to guide a unit or school year is something I’ve gradually moved towards, without thinking about it until now. Whenever I find my teaching getting sloppy or lesson ideas getting state, deliberate and frequent reference to these texts should shake things up and refresh my thinking.

What’s missing from the list above? What are you using this year to inform your teaching and TRIP?
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2 thoughts on “This is what happens when teachers TRIP

  1. Excellent idea. The summer before last I took one of those online PD courses, which essentially consisted of “make a plan, do the work, log the hours, write it up,” and it was by far the most fruitful summer and interesting PD I’d done in twenty years of teaching. I was focused on reading workshop. I didn’t do this class this past summer, due to finances, and I wish I had. Having that accountability piece built in really kept me on track, and made me feel less guilty about taking time away from my family. I decided to work my way through Beers and Probst’s “Notice and Note” this year, and I will keep your suggestions in mind to focus my learning.

    • gerard.dawson1@gmail.com

      Thanks for the feedback, Wendy. Yea, the accountability that a course (especially a paid one) can create is so helpful, especially for teachers with a limited budget of time and money.

      Notice and Note is a helpful resource, and definitely one that I considered on my list here.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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