As educators, I think this is the question we need to be asking. All. The. Time.

I’m worried. I’m worried that our profession is moving towards the timesavers, the quick fixes, the lessons-in-a-box (or book). I’m worried that we are easily accepting what we are asked to do without questioning, without asking for evidence that it is best practice, without asking whether it is what’s best for our students, without asking “why” we are doing this.  We are asked to follow scripts written by people who oftentimes aren’t even educators, to follow lessons written by well-meaning educators (but educators who have never met our children) without thinking them through, to put children in front of computers to assess their reading and math abilities (and, even worse, to deliver instruction) without asking why in the world we would rely on a computer instead of a trained professional educator to assess and teach our children.

We are busy. So. Very. Busy.  Believe me, I get that. But we can’t stop questioning. We can’t stop thinking.  We can’t stop “being brave enough to outgrow your own best teaching”, (as Lucy Calkins wrote). We can’t look for the quick fix, the timesaver, the intervention-in-a-box. We can’t stop believing that it is highly trained educators that can make the difference. Not for any children, but especially not for our most vulnerable children. Not for the kids that need us the most. These children need us to be thinkers. Questioners. Fighters. They need teachers who are willing to go the extra mile, who aren’t willing to give up, who realize that the fastest assessment or the quickest lesson plan or the packet on TPT  may not be the best. Teachers who view every lesson idea and plan through the lens of the children who are in their class at this moment. Teachers who put children above curriculum, standards or objectives. Teachers who are advocates and not afraid to speak up. Teachers who are willing to put their heads together to figure out what is going on and how to best help these children. Teachers who will never give up. Teachers who realize that we cannot waste time with activities and tasks that are not authentic and meaningful. Teachers who keep learning and thinking and talking and digging deeper into curriculum, assessment and most of all, the children in their rooms right now.

Teachers who collaborate, think and constantly question their practices, and what they are asked to do – are the ones who can, and will make a difference.

Be brave, my teacher friends. Be brave. Ask why. And keep making a difference every day.




  1. I love, love, love this post! I am a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader and our platform this year in On-going Professional Development is asking why! I can’t wait to share your post! Catching Readers continues to be in my top 5 of favorite and most powerful professional books! Thanks for your words! #bebrave #askwhy

  2. Katie – Thanks for keeping our CR website alive! I love the fact that we had this conversation the other night — and boom! You turned it into a blog post. Thanks for finding the time to do that. I also love your Lucy quote. In my book she wrote, “And when you get there, there is no there there!” She is so wise.
    Looking forward to our next dinner — to talk the literacy talk again!

  3. Katie, The first time I read “Catching Readers Before They Fall”, I thought this woman understands what it is like to be in a classroom with students who struggle. The post you just wrote resonates with me as well. I have been an educator for almost 30 years. We keep pushing the kids harder and we are forgetting what is important. Data can give useful information which is so helpful, but not having the time to teach because of all the assessments is frustrating. They keep adding more, leaving us little time to do what is necessary to help our kids be successful learners who love reading.

  4. I so wish that the current times and climate didn’t necessitate this post. But given that it has, I so appreciate your passion, your conviction and your sense of urgency. I think there’s a generation of teachers, who came of age during the CCSS roll-out, who don’t know any other way. But it’s so important for those of us who do to share our thoughts. Thanks! And please say hi to Pat for me!


  5. Yes, we should be very worried. The amount of stress in the “age of accountability” is a frightening time. We are the ones who know best what children need. Those of us who have spent the amount of Malcom Gladwell hours to become an expert thinking and trying and growing ideas in the relationships and organic learning environments we teach in. The bizarro universe I now live in constantly goes against my core values. This disconnect I feel to the way I am being asked to pace myself does not allow for enough wondering, or creating. Thank you for being brave and putting this out there for others to call into question all we are being required to do to keep our jobs and get that percentage of data to put us into the right category they deem “excellent”.

  6. I SO agree with what you have to say here. In my teaching career I have had the honor to teach with smart, thoughtful, teacher-learners who taught with intention aligned to their beliefs about literacy. However, I am witnessing the onslaught of computer testing and scripted curriculum. I wonder why. Why are we not listening to those who have come before us with smart, solid words about literacy practice? Some days I am very sad. Other days I ask the questions and send the emails. And always, I hope for the children. Thanks for the post.

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