In 1991, after a summer at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English, I began keeping notes in my high school English classroom. Some notes were written in hard-bound journals and others were kept on scraps of paper and dropped into a file folder.
I learned about being a teacher-researcher in the classroom of Dixie Goswami and James Britton. Over the course of the summer, they demonstrated how listening closely and writing their understanding helped them "come to know" more about their students, their classrooms, and their own learning. Not surprisingly, their graduate class was called "Coming to Know"; in our class, Dixie and Mr. Britton exemplified teachers as learners.
I didn't know it during the fall of 1991, but the notes I began keeping were the genesis of three books, Room 109: The Promise of a Portfolio Classroom, Beyond Room 109: Developing Independent Study Projects, and A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 6-12.
This fall, I received a letter from my publisher informing me that Room 109 would be going out of print. The writer invited me to buy the remaining warehouse copies and she promised to send me the PDF of the book to do with as I wished. "109" sure had a good run. I use the book in one of my classes for future English teachers. They always wonder how I managed such a classroom with 115-120 students, especially after I share a collection of portfolios with them. I have great memories of those high school teaching days. They're strong memories because of my students… and because I wrote about them in my notes and then in these books. Here's the back cover copy:
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