Helping Students Build Reading and Writing Lives

By Jeffrey Austin & Vivett Dukes

#SafeSpaceConvos is a Twitter chat led and hosted by teacher Vivett Dukes on alternating Mondays at 8:30pm ET. In a forum that encourages honest dialogue and connection, we come together to learn, grow, and co-construct solutions to pressing problems for students.

On Monday, January 7, 2019, Jeffrey Austin co-hosted this chat on empowering, student-centered reading and writing practices. Jeffrey has been living his dream as a teacher since 2006. Currently, he is the English Department Chair and Writing Center Director at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2017, he was honored with the Washtenaw County Commendable Teacher Award from the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce, and he was admitted into the first-ever Innovative Educator Corps by the State of Michigan in November 2018.


Chat Highlights

Q1: What strategies do you use with students to help them understand their literacies and set goals for future learning?


Q2: Discussions around literacy with students are often centered on deficits and scarcity. How can we change our conversations with students around reading and writing to center on assets and abundance?


Q3: How we help students use their lived experiences and sociopolitical realities to draw them into text?


Q4: What strategies and practices can we use to help students develop reading lives without relying on compliance-based models like reading logs and fact-based recall quizzes?


Q5: Let’s share strategies, small and large. How can we celebrate students’ literacy accomplishments in a way that motivates and inspires them as readers and writers?



Resource Round-Up

Austin, J. (2018, December 26). Humanizing school: 3 ways to make students feel valid and valued. Teach Better. Available at:

Burvall, A. and Ryder, D. (2017). Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom. Ed Tech Team Press.

Sims Bishop, R. (2015). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Available at:

Wright, Z. (2017, December 22). Political philosophy isn’t just for college students, it’s making my students stronger readers. Education Post. Available at:


Be bold. Be authentic. Join #SafeSpaceConvos

You’re invited to join the next chat on Monday, January 21, 2018 at 8:30pm ET. You can also read through these archived chats for insights and resources from your peers.