top of page

1.1 This Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks

Image of dog on skateboard courtesy of American Kennel Club, retrieved July 11, 2023,

Welcome to my first-ever blog post! It follows my first-ever Canva presentation, created a week ago for PME 811 Innovation in Teaching and Learning...In the most delicious of ironies, I--the veteran reading and writing teacher, the skilled editor of everything, the overprepared workshop presenter-- find myself in the humble and uncertain position of a rank novice with this form of communication. I feel like there may be a lot of "firsts" in my near future. I realize that I'll have to lean into this discomfort if I expect to ever gain any momentum, so here goes! This blog will become a Table of Contents for my reflections as I work through the course content, respond to my peers, and consider how to be innovative in my role as Learning Support Teacher.

Old Dog...

I have seen so many things change in the field of education since I entered the profession: a swing away from whole language to structured literacy, a move toward meaningful inclusion and appreciation of diversity, an abundance of technology tools, a revised and updated curriculum document and reporting framework, and the list goes on... The effects of the pandemic on humans (young and old) is not readily measurable, but it is immediately obvious that our students are more anxious about their future, yet less engaged in their schoolwork. I feel like the public, who at the beginning of Covid, hailed teachers for our efforts, are now less sympathetic and even downright hostile when we voice our concerns about the staff shortages, the social-emotional needs of our students, and the increasing violence in our schools. Also notable is that I have never seen the level of complexity with learning challenges that we are preparing for now.

New Tricks

Wanting to remain relevant, I have embraced change. Like most of my peers who have a few years' experience, my practice has been radically shifted away from "stand and deliver," with the same assignment for all students, to "Universal Design for Learning," differentiation, a workshop model, and project-based learning. I use technology tools, vertical learning, and Growth Mindset language. I'm open to learning new things.

Wanting to be effective, I have kept up with professional development: Trauma Informed Practice, The Shanker Method (Self-Reg), Science of Reading, Diversity and Inclusion, Anti-Racism and the list goes on. There are so many needs in modern classrooms that it can be dizzying to consider how to most effectively approach my role as a Learning Support teacher. Where do I put my time and energy? Which instructional methods are worth introducing? What is the evidence base for a given practice? How can I collaborate with my peers to improve outcomes for all students?

The purpose of this blog

I'm endlessly inspired by John Hattie. As I struggled today to refine my PME 811 inquiry question into one rational thought, I recalled that teachers are "positive change agents" (Hattie, 2012. p. 25) and I considered my managerial approach to curriculum (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013). As a Learning Support teacher who works daily in regular classrooms, I strive to support my colleagues with resources and training. Understanding my role this way allows me to refine all of my questions into one inquiry focus:

How can I improve teaching and learning around the Core Competencies, especially for students with learning challenges?

I hope you'll join me on this adventure.


Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers. In Routledge eBooks.

Image of dog on skateboard courtesy of American Kennel Club, retrieved July 11, 2023,

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (1988). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues.

1 Comment

Jul 19, 2023

This is great.

bottom of page