Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Wyshynski, R., & Paulsen, D. (1995). Maybe I will do something: Lessons from coyote. Language Arts, 72, 258-264.

The authors relate a story of Coyote that describes the disastrous results of Coyote's attempt to imitate the tricks of another. They suggest that this is a valuable lesson for teachers, who often try to imitate the seemingly easy teaching practices of others. They describe each of their attempts to imitate a practice that was appealing. For Wyshynski, it was using the readers' workshop model. Everything seemed easy and seemed to be going okay, but she questioned the results. The students were reading from a narrow collection and were not very reflective. She realized that her students did not have the literate companions to sustain a meaningful dialogue. She decided to reclaim her role as teacher to help her students become more literate companions for each other. She was able to value children's voices and contributions while retaining her authority as a teacher who helps students learn. She became purposeful in her decision making. Paulsen's story is similar. The authors discuss the deeper understanding of reader workshop and interpretive communities that resulted from their questioning of practice. They conclude that teachers often imitate "grand ideas" without a clear focus on purpose. With a more focused vision, they feel that they now know why they do what they do with their students each day.

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