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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 6
Late July, 2002


Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able teacher and developing Response-Able students.



My mission is to inspire, encourage and uplift the spirits of educators so they can in turn inspire, encourage, and uplift the spirits of their students.




1. Quote

2. Idea Exchange

3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation

4. Teacher Talk

5. Grant Information

6. Article: "A Vignette of Five"


1. Quote [back to top]


"As educators, we cannot heal the shadow of our culture by educating people to succeed in society as it is. We must have the courage to educate people to heal the world into what it might become."
---------------Rachel Naomi Remen ----------------


2. Idea Exchange [back to top]


Ever spend hours writing specific, descriptive comments on students' papers only to see them quickly glance at the grade, then put or throw the papers away without even reading your feedback? Frustrating, isn't it?

Would you prefer that students thoroughly examine your comments, reflect on them, and use them to improve next time? If so, you may need to teach them how to do just that. If you want a behavior, you have to teach a behavior.

Begin by explaining that in a few moments you will be passing back your students' book reports, research papers, etc. Inform them that their next assignment, which you will be collecting, is as follows:

1. Read over all the comments I placed on your paper.
2. Decide which ones you agree with and which ones you don't.
3. Pick one you agree with or one you disagree with, and write a one-paragraph explanation telling why.
4. Tell something you will do differently next time based on your reactions to my comments.
5. Turn this assignment in at the end of the hour with your name on it.

Collect all the papers and write new comments on them. Distribute them during the next class period, and notice how students react to them. Lead a class discussion on how their reactions to your comments were the same or different in the two lessons.


3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


Today, live your life as if you are the cause of your experiences. Notice your reaction to doing that. In this way you get to be-cause.


4. Teacher Talk [back to top]


"Did you win?"

After Kathryn's track meet, Carl's debate, Amy's softball game, and Dorothy's defense of first-chair trumpet, each student's teacher asked, "Did you win?"

Because these students' teachers all directed their interest toward winning, they missed an opportunity to help their students focus on the many joys of competition. Camaraderie, self-testing, belonging, effort, teamwork, goal setting, and learning are among the many valuable components of competition. We can begin to communicate this to our students by changing the focus of our Teacher Talk from winning to one of the other important aspects of competition. We can do this by asking open-ended, reflective questions that encourage our students to think.

"What did you like best about it?"
"Tell me something you learned."
"How did you experience the experience?"
"What was it like for you?"
"How did it compare to other competitions?"
"How satisfying was it?"

Help your students consider the many pleasures of competition by purposefully structuring Teacher Talk that moves beyond the belief that "winning is most important." (Adapted from "Teacher Talk: What It Really Means" by Chick Moorman and Nancy Weber, Personal Power Press. $12.95. To order call (toll free) 877/360-1477.)



5. Grant Information [back to top]


Teaching Tolerance

Grants up to $2000 are available to k-12 teachers from the Teaching Tolerance project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit group that fights discrimination. The grants are awarded for activities promoting diversity, peacemaking, community service, and other aspects of tolerance education. Requests should include a typed, 500-word description of the activity and proposed budget. Application deadline: ongoing. ( (Source: PEN NewsBlast,


We enjoy ideas, concerns, frustrations, successes, and encouragement. Contact us at....


6. Article [back to top]


A Vignette of Five

by Ethelouise Carpenter

He was five, and in kindergarten. The first time he was told his boots were on the wrong feet, he said, "No, these are mine" and the next time, "Well, it doesn't matter. I know where I'm going."

As the weeks went on, we learned that he had a copper spaniel dog, he slept in a four-holster bed and he lived (in this university community) next door to merry housing.

He had a hole in his boots that sucked up water, and he objected to walking to school on lumpy sidewalks. He had a new baby sister who leaked and who had a bath when there wasn't any dirt on her.

In school he complained about a child who was acting too deteriorating, and one day he announced he had had a messtressing accident.

At the workbench he ground wood and made Swiss cheese. He didn't like pineapple juice because it kinda bit him. He said he loved to eat celery-he could hear the noise inside his head. He couldn't play with guinea pigs because they were bad for his energies. He made a very mykannic thing of wood and wire and touched dry cell wires to the globe to make the world turn.

He squeezed shoots of water from a plastic soap container, discovering he could do it to the rhythm of Yankee Doodle. He made a mousetrap and a suit of knight armor. He bottled milkweed seeds so he could see them loose without losing them. He raced two worms across a board and blew noises out of mailing tubes. He took off his shoes because he liked the rug feeling through his socks. He wore a man-shirt and necktie that he invariably wound up in the workbench vise.

His smock was loaded with paint, his zipper was halfway up, his long belt gathered in too-large corduroy pants. He was a loud-voiced, door-slamming laugher who came to school early so he could get some things done before he got too busy. He wanted to go outside when it rained because that's when you see the best things.

He moved to another town that summer, and the next year he failed first grade. The school evidently was not ready for him.



7. Subscription Information [back to top]


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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses presented by Chick Moorman contact him at toll free, 877/360-1477 or email


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