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SPECIAL SECTION THEMED ISSUE
In Memoriam: Dr. Linda Dorn
Linda led us and coached us with a sound theme that I believe illustrated an Apprenticeship Approach, one that emphasized changes in both student and teacher learning. Linda taught us all with her whole heart using the same principles below that she taught us to use, as we taught children to read and teachers to teach.
Observation and Responsive Teaching
In the early days, as Linda would observe my teaching, videos, and audio cassettes, she always pushed me and others to always shift our instructional language to shape the children’s learning. Intense coaching sessions were all about learning new theories about modeling, coaching, and scaffolding, and making sure that we were always working “in the zone” with each and every student. In working with adults, she encouraged us to use the same principles to shape each learner.
Modeling and Coaching
Linda always used modeling and coaching techniques that would stimulate our problem-solving processes in working with the lowest performing students. Linda presented us with conceptual models of literacy tasks and the theory behind each task to serve as an internalized guide for supporting all learners. Linda demonstrated to all teachers who crossed her path the importance of problem solving and taking action from a theoretical standpoint.
In learning from Linda, it was evident that she used the same principles that she expected us to use with our students and the teachers we trained. Linda was gifted in scaffolding us as educators. She would provide just the right support that we needed in order to further develop our teaching competency. She was an expert in providing the temporary structure to enable all who sat under her to accomplish any task successfully.
Clear and Relevant Language for Problem-Solving
In every educational conversation that you had with Linda, she promoted conscious awareness of literate knowledge and the theory behind it. She realized the importance of theory grounded instruction. Linda understood the difference between an externalized teaching activity and an internalized teaching decision or method based upon teaching and learning theory. These interactions did not develop in isolation. Linda pushed us and she naturally wove theory-based decisions and teaching actions into everything that we did. She prompted us to be articulate in order to help other teachers acquire higher-level understandings about literacy concepts.
As educators, we know the importance of structured routines in the classroom. These routines help students to reach higher levels of literacy development. Linda was a literacy expert. Common knowledge tells us that all experts cannot teach. However, I am forever changed because Linda was an expert and she could teach. Linda’s theory- based instruction, her questioning, pointing out, reminding, suggesting, and praising were her structured routines that led us to structure not only our thinking, but the development of our expertise. Through these routine interactions, Linda was teaching us to structure our own learning and reasoning and to go far beyond ‘procedural knowledge.’ These encounters with Linda helped me to develop expertise and inherently culturally developed my ways of thinking and learning.
Assisted and Independent Work
If you worked closely with Linda, you knew she was your biggest cheerleader. The thought that “I can’t,” never crossed her mind. Believe me, she wouldn’t let it cross your mind either! In 1997, when we began writing Apprenticeship in Literacy, the doubts crept in on the daunting task of writing a book and doing something that you had never done before. Cathy French, Linda, and I knew we had a lot
Carla Soffos- We are all better teachers and educators because of Linda’s work. She will definitely be missed, but her passion for teaching and learning will live on in the hearts and lives of everyone of us!