#CyberPD Week 1: Learning from Being the Change

One thing I've come to look forward to each summer is #CyberPD! Reading a professional book and discussing it with other educators around the world has pushed me to grow each time. This year, we are reading Sara K. Ahmed's Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension. 

Sara defines social comprehension as "how we make meaning from and mediate our relationship with the world"(xxv). As I studied to be a teacher back in the late 90's/early 00's, no one ever talked about this idea. We learned how to teach each academic subject and then spoke about character education as a separate entity. The reality, now that I've been teaching for over 16 years, is relationships and classroom dynamics play into every single thing we teach students. We can't "just teach math"  or any subject without teaching kids how to respect each other, how to really listen, how to disagree and yet still treat each other in loving ways. Lord knows our society isn't modeling this for children- from the top office of our nation, we are seeing name-calling, ridicule, and no space for respectful disagreements. It's up to teachers to help this generation learn what it means to respect other's identities and listen with love. 

Some of the ideas Sara talked about I have tried with my students. I read Thunder Boy Jr. last year and  had students writer letters to their family in a Family Dialogue Journal, inquiring about their name or sharing their feelings about their name. This opened up some interesting conversations and the stories were beautiful to read.  I've written my own "Where I'm From" poem, learning about this from my work with the Long Island Writing Project. While I haven't done this with third graders (don't think it is a good fit for the age level) I've done "I am" poems with them, which is another great way for younger children to share more of their identity. 

In Chapter 2, I respected how Sara talked about forming the Class Compact on the first day of school as a mistake. I've done that, too, and it always feels artificial. The kids are always quick to say all the "rules" like "raise your hand before speaking" but it just feels like they are rattling off what they think they should say. It is neater and easier for the teacher to lead this discussion and get all her own ideas down and have a pretty chart to hang for Back to School Night, but it is less authentic and genuine. I need to rethink how I will frame this discussion this year. 

I am looking forward to reading others ideas in the #CyberPD community and reading further! 


  1. I so agree with you, Kathleen! We learned everything separately, but now understand that the lines are blurred throughout our school day to include social comprehension, social/emotional, reading, writing, math and so on! I also believe this is the book our world of teachers need right now ... so many important ways we can model and practice how to listen with love, be self-aware, and empathize through all this heart work. I appreciate how you are extending your learning and making changes for next year already! Thanks for sharing! :)


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