Monthly Archives: July 2017

Ok to the KOA

by Jenn Hayhurst & Jill DeRosa

Jill is now in her fifth year discovering our majestic nation!  Consider this post a scrapbook memory, reflecting back on experiences that taught us so many lessons…. 

The RV is a smooth ride slicing due west over the open road heading towards the Badlands. Sun Hunt sings soulfully, Body Like a Back Road,  but our eyes are wide open. We are looking at the world unfold in all of its splendor, curious to know what will be revealed around every bend in the road.  This is our fourth summer exploring our great nation, and it comes with lots of questions: What route should we take? Where will we stay? What do we want to see?

Having a destination is the first decision we make, and the  KOA campground will be our home for the next few days. It’s a safe choice because we know what to expect. KOA is famous for setting up fun family tours, “Today’s KOA takes care of everything, with friendly service and great amenities, so you can have fun with the people you love.” Sign us up! 

Do we go on the guided tour and see the sights that others have planned?  Maybe, it does sound like a good time. Our tour guide will be friendly and is sure to know lots of interesting information about the Badlands. He will dedicate himself to his work and give us an incredible experience to remember.  Or… Do we decide to learn as we go?  We can map our own path and create a journey of our own design. 

So, what route would you take? The goal is to create experiences which will enhance our understanding of who we are in this great big beautiful world. Learning aspires to fill our hearts with the potential for wonder. Sometimes teachers decide to go on a learning tour, showing our students the sights in a way that is likely to generate successful experiences.  Sometimes, we will want to learn and explore alongside our students. We venture out as co-explorers and build authentic experiences that are likely to lead to all kinds of possibilities for growth for students and for us.  Name your intention, it doesn’t matter if you are teaching on tour or teaching as a co-explorer. It’s all about the learning experiences that are being created along the way.

Lyrical Lessons

louBy Jenn Hayhurst, and Jill DeRosa


Hello summah! We are heading south across the Ocean Beach Causeway towards the Jones Beach Amphitheater to see a classic double bill,   Bonnie Raitt and  James Taylor  Friends at our side, sunshine overhead, and carefree hearts. Life is good.

Our seats are way, way up. We peer down as James takes us back to his roots Carolina In My Mind and the crowd roars joyfully. Like a silver tear, the full moon streams across rippling waters.  This was the plan, fun, and nothing but fun. We all sing and sway and smile because this is why we came. Life is good!

James shows us mountains, lightning, and thunder through his song,  Montana.  Then I see it, a behemoth. A billowing black rain cloud, black as smoke rolling in from the east. I think, “It’ll be alright there is plenty of clear skies.”  But don’t we always know the truth? Disorienting disequilibrium signals things are about to change. Life is… good?

“You can play the game, you can act out the part. Though you know it wasn’t written for you.”  It is misting heavily (Shower the People).  The people, are beginning to leave. Their eyes downcast looking at the concrete steps leading out and away. Something inside me makes me look up. A heavy inky black sky menacing.  BAM! A torrent of rain streams down from the heavens, just as Arnold Rufus McCulle sings, “Let it RAIN.” Is he smiling?  Yes, a playful boyish smile, there for all to see.  I smile back, and shout “I own the rain!” Jumping up, I begin to dance and clap along. Water sputters and sprays with every beat. LIFE IS GOOD!

This moment reinforces our beliefs as teachers. Make a plan but never forget that control is an illusion. Teach in the moment that life hands you. Sometimes the best work can come out of the “surprises”  that surely wait for each of us. When you step into the classroom, you are stepping into the life of each student; and they are stepping into yours.

“Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel. Things are going to be just fine if you only will.”  – James Taylor



















A Process Mindset

by Jenn Hayhurst & Jill DeRosa

We are currently writing a book, it is a long process. Somewhere along the way, we discovered that writing and learning are soulmates. There is no arrival because it’s not about the destination. Our writing is inspired by the learning work we do with children and each other… 

There are three things we know for sure:
  1. Neuroplasticity means that your brain is not fixed. Your brain is wired for change. Your brain grows over time as it continues to learn, it rewires itself around that new learning. Essentially, your brain is writing the story of your life through the synaptic pathways it creates. Each pathway leads the way to a new perception.
  2. Teaching is messy because learning seldom follows a linear path. There are many alternative routes for learning to occur. Whether we are a teacher or a student our goal is the same to keep on learning.
  3. It’s time to consider adopting a Process Mindset 

What a Process Mindset is: Teachers who are ready to follow the path that the student cuts. It means leading by following where the learner needs to go.  Embracing choice and all that it requires from us. Student talk is essential data to inform instruction. Accepting and embracing that learning happens on its own timeline, not ours.

 What a Process Mindset is not: One size fits all learning. Assigning worksheets to fill minutes of the school day. Monolithic narratives.  Assigning unimportant homework that makes zero impact on student growth. It is not doing what others do because it’s always been done that way.

If we decide to be a learner for the rest our lives, our brains are up for the challenge.  If we decide to believe and act upon students’ potential they are up for the challenge too. When we allow students to direct the learning we are opening ourselves up to the Process Mindset. Just try it and see what happens next.