Sunday / July 21

Taking On New Teacher Roles: The 4 M’s

In my previous post I wrote about how to create truly independent readers, ones where students are in charge of their own reading lives. When students are truly independent, they assign, monitor, and manage the decisions they make about what and how to read. They do not just follow directions and use a strategy because the teacher told them to; they are purposeful and intentional because they set their own goals. If students are taking charge, that opens up space for us educators to take on new roles. I call the teacher roles that support independence the 4 M’s. The 4 M’s stand for being a miner, mirror, model, and mentor. When teachers take on each of these roles they are helping students develop a growth mindset and ownership of their reading experiences. Let’s take a look at each role.

Be a miner. When we are acting as a miner we are trying to uncover a reader’s process. What I mean by a reader’s process includes their purpose, how they read, and how they think about texts. As a miner we are not just looking to figure out if a student got a question correct; we are looking to figure out how they go about reading and making meaning from the text. This is a deep form of assessment that allows us to get into a “reader’s mind” and make instructional decisions from there.

Be a mirror. When we are acting as a mirror we are offering growth mindset feedback to reflect back at a reader what he is already able to do. A mirror does not judge or correct and instead simply shows you what is happening. As a mirror we reinforce a part of a reader’s process and name the resulting impact of the steps the reader took. When we offer feedback in this way our language can reinforce a growth mindset where effort and reflection are framed as paying off.

Be a model. When we are acting as a model we are showing students what we do as readers. This means we open up our own process and show and name each part so that students can begin to learn other ways of thinking about texts. As a model we are not giving readers an assignment and instead are letting students know one more tool they may use and when it may be helpful for them. Modeling offers students a chance to witness and not just hear about a part of a reading process.

Be a mentor. When we are acting as a mentor we are teaching students additional ways of reading and coaching them through a part of the process. As mentors we are not doing the work with or for the students and instead are observing them in action. This is like being a coach on the sidelines, and then prompting readers with an additional step to try. As mentors we are side by side with students as they take on something new that will help them read with more depth

Each of these 4 M roles is aligned to a different instructional focus. The following chart shows this alignment.


My new book, Mindsets and Moves: Strategies That Help Readers Take Charge offers specific strategies and concrete moves you can take on in order to practice the 4 M’s with your students. Take our photo tour here and peek inside classrooms where student readers take charge.

Written by

Gravity Goldberg is coauthor of Conferring with Readers: Supporting Each Students’ Growth and Independence (Heinemann, 2007) and author of many articles about reading, writing, and professional development. She holds a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a former staff developer at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and an assistant professor at Iona College’s graduate education program. She leads a team of literacy consultants in the New York/New Jersey region. Gravity is the author of Mindsets and Moves: Strategies That Help Readers Take Charge, Grades 1-8.

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