This is a repost of a piece Tanny McGregor graciously wrote for Collaborate. Innovate. Create. a little over a year ago. Tanny was so kind to mention this to a room full of educators at a recent NCTE affiliate conference in Texas, NTCTELA. It’s a perfect post to revisit. Thank you, my dear friend!
I’m deeply honored that my friend and hero Tanny McGregor agreed to share her heart today in our Thursday segment, That Thing You Do! Tanny has been inspiring students and teachers for almost three decades. She is known internationally as a speaker, professional development trainer and Heinemann author of three books; Comprehension Connections, Comprehension Going Forward: Where We Are and What’s Next (co-author), Genre Connections. You can connect with Tanny on Twitter @TannyMcG and at www.tannymcgregor.com
Not so long ago I almost missed my plane back to Cincinnati. The entire day had been rushed: one meeting after another, running late for every appointment. No time to read, write or even think. My connecting flight had been delayed, so I ran onto the last flight of the day just moments before the door slammed shut. Falling into my seat, I dropped my planner and something fell out into the aisle, an article I had clipped from the newspaper. As I reread the title I laughed at the irony: “Speed Gets Us Nowhere Fast”. Lou Guntzelman’s weekly column was a favorite of mine in our local Community Press, and I had carried around this particular article for months. As soon as I buckled in, I decided to spend time with this article once again, to reread it, to jot my thinking in the margins, and to think on Lou’s wise words. It seemed like only moments later when the pilot’s “prepare for arrival” announcement pulled me out of deep thought.
Don’t get me wrong. I have more rushed days than not, and slowing down doesn’t come naturally to me. But I know that it is only in deceleration that I can think deeply and allow my thoughts room to grow. Perhaps this is why one of my favorite articles (ever!) contains the word deceleration in its title.
The Power of Patience: Teaching Students the Value of Deceleration & Immersive Attention (Harvard Magazine, Nov/Dec 2013) Written by Jennifer L. Roberts, this article is one answer to a framing question posed by the Harvard Initiative for Learning & Teaching (HILT):
“In this time of disruptions and innovation…what are the essentials of good teaching and learning?”
Here’s the link. Take some time to decelerate and think about this article. You’ll see yourself in the author’s words, and you’ll think about your students.
Revisit these ideas by viewing and listening. Here Jennifer Roberts delivers her message on the stage.
So what can this mean to us as readers? What can we do to become more thoughtful, mindful, decelerated readers? I’m considering the following list as I strive to slow down, and offering these suggestions up to my students as well.
Ten ways to become a decelerated reader:
- Breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly a few times before you begin.
- Unplug. Place your phone out of reach. Push the laptop aside.
- Reread. Confused? Read again. Interested? Read again.
- Sketchnote. Read with pen in hand to remember what you’ve read.
- Notice. Text features, photos, fonts, colors are there for a reason.
- Slow down. There’s no prize for finishing fast.
- Reflect. Metacognition thrives when we examine our own thoughts.
- Enjoy. Be grateful for reading opportunities and interesting books.
- Dwell. Sit and think about the text. Ruminate in the quiet.
- Talk. Sharing your thinking with another stretches out the reading experience and lets your thinking expand in unexpected ways.
To consider: How might we embrace these deliberate actions in our own reading lives? How can we make it possible for students to begin to do the same?
By the way, if you live in the Cincinnati area, join the Cincy Slow Reading Club. We meet monthly for an hour of sweet, slow reading, inspired by this Wall Street Journal article.
Thanks for reading, friends. I’ve had this topic on my mind for quite a while. So grateful to Val for the invitation to write about it here.