I’m an instructional coach helping schools
and educators create engaged readers and writers.
instructional coach / curriculum specialist / professional development designer & facilitator/ former English teacher and tutor / author
On this site, I share resources for teachers and parents who are helping young people build a love for deep, critical reading and well-crafted purposeful writing. I reflect on recent education and cognitive science research, classroom practices, coaching conversations I’ve had with teachers, true stories of over a decade of working with students, book talks I’ve had with young readers, and my own questions about instruction.
by Shveta Miller
There is no shortage of ways we all can benefit from teaching graphic novels. They engage reluctant or struggling readers, they are gateway texts for more complex literature, they build necessary background knowledge, and they develop visual literacy skills.
But another important reason to teach students to read, analyze, and create a graphic novel is that the form invites them to express hard truths about themselves and their experiences in a way that is different from what they can do with pure prose.
And perhaps a more surprising reason is for the impact it can have on a teacher’s relationship with students. Teaching the graphic novel to my high school English students was a way for me to see that there was pain in my classroom and the role I might be playing in students’ difficult experiences.
by Shveta Miller
When I saw a student nodding off in class during my first year as a high school teacher, I am not proud to confess that I responded with, “Gary, I’m deducting participation points. We don’t sleep in class.” I am forever grateful for his honest response:
That’s not fair. I mean, some of us have been up all night because of a crying baby sister. You just take off points because I closed my eyes for a second? I’m trying my best.
So many thoughts ran through my head in that moment, standing in front of an increasingly silent and watchful audience of 10th graders.
Wow, that’s a really understandable reason to be nodding off right now. I wonder, what are other reasons students struggle to remain attentive in class? How can I support students with meeting essential expectations like showing up, staying awake, and completing assignments?
Equity in the classroom means that every student has the support they need to be successful. It took several more years for me to establish systems, routines, and learning activities that would help all students meet high expectations. But one place to start is finding out about students’ lives outside of school at the beginning of the year. From there, we can plan instruction and assignments with students’ specific needs and challenges in mind.
by Shveta Miller
If you’re a teacher with a classroom library, your graphic novels are flying off the shelves. Your students gravitate to the same titles, wait their turns, and reread them almost obsessively. We’re all happy for young readers when they find something so engaging in a book that they want to reread it. But sometimes we wonder what they’re getting out of rereading the same graphic novels.
Are they just looking at the pictures? we think. Do they like it because it’s just easier to read? and even the best of us sometimes think Is this even real reading? As a visiting consultant and instructional coach, I’ve heard these questions from dozens of teachers. In our coaching conversations, I’ve discovered that the real questions they have are How can I find out what students are doing as readers when they read graphic novels? And What could they be doing as they’re reading graphic novels to make deeper meaning?
How to analyze a graphic novel page
Watch me and another reader discuss and analyze page six of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis. We pose questions, make predictions, reference graphic novel devices and techniques, support our theories with visual and textual evidence, and respond to each other’s ideas with curiosity.
For use in the classroom, reference this tool to help students develop close reading skills using the video as a guide.
by Shveta Miller
Viewing brief recordings of a teacher’s students in class made all the difference for our online coaching partnership.
As an instructional coach using a student-centered coaching model, I’ve seen again and again the impact that a teacher’s honest reflection has on student learning. In face-to-face coaching, I observe teaching and learning live. Then, I partner with the teacher to unpack what works and could work better in a lesson. We collaborate to identify achievable goals for students and brainstorm action steps that will lead them to success.
Rapport is easy to establish when we’re working side by side, looking at student work samples, and recalling oral responses offered by students we both know by name.
In an online coaching session, it can be challenging to develop that same coaching partnership without access to the live classroom. Online sessions were most beneficial when working with teachers who came to the session having already reflected on the lesson and ready to receive feedback. But what happens when this doesn’t occur?