Making the time: Tammy McMorrow

Today I'd like to introduce one of the more reflective teachers I know. She is also one of those people who always makes you feel like you are important. She comments regularly on blogs and really give you her time. She is very special. Meet Tammy McMorrow from
I'd like to thank Kimberley for inviting me to chat on her blog. I've been sitting on this invitation for some time now, trying to decide if I have anything of use to add to the wisdom she consistently shares here.  I'm not sure I've come up with a definitive answer on that.  I'm here mostly because I really like Kimberley.  I wish Maine was right down the hallway instead of across the country.  I'd love to watch her in action. Her blog challenges and inspires me.  I can only imagine what sitting in her classroom would do to me.  Anyway, I want to honor her request, so this is my story of how and why I make time to improve my teaching craft.  

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to provide a disclaimer. I'm single and have been my whole teaching career.  When it comes to home life, the only thing that really competes for my attention is the amount of sleep that I love to get on a school night.  Some day I plan on being married to a man who understands the time I spend asleep or thinking about school, but in the meantime, I love being a single teacher.

When I think of my teaching craft and the transformations it's experienced, my thoughts immediately land on three influential moments from the last 20 years.  I'm really good at making a long story short, so I'll keep this concise.  

During my third year of teaching, I was invited by my principal to participate in a nine-month Reading Recovery training provided by my state.  I had a great college experience, but Reading Recovery is where I truly learned how to be a great teacher.  That training still influences my daily practice.  Then in the late 1900s (I get a kick out of talking about the 1900s. Sounds like forever ago.), a teacher friend and I decided to get our Masters in Reading together.  I met some professors who challenged and helped shape my pedagogy.  In fact, that's where I first heard of pedagogy and realized I had one. Finally, in 2005 I joined up with the Writing Project and spent my summer writing and refining my teaching practice.  If anyone has the opportunity to become a Writing Project fellow, take it.

In addition to these three most influential times in my teacher life, I also surround myself with books about teaching.  I read, highlight, jot down favorite quotes, put ideas into practice, and become a better teacher because of gurus like Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins, Marie Clay, Debbie Miller, and my absolute favorite Regie Routman (to name a few).  Many of my best instructional practices come directly from these teacher leaders.      

I guess the moral of the tale is that I'm in charge of my own professional development.  My district does the best it can when it comes to meeting the professional needs of a vast number and variety of teachers, but I'm the only one who knows what I really need.  When it comes right down to it, I'm the one responsible for making sure my pedagogy and practice is where it needs to be.  I'm responsible for pushing myself to continually reach for the next level.  I can't put that job off on someone else.  I'll be continually disappointed if I do, and my teaching will suffer as well.  

I read recently that workers continually paint the Golden Gate Bridge.  Their work might temporarily halt due to factors such as fog, but their work is never complete.  That's a lot like what I do.  I know from reading Kimberley's blog that she feels the same way.  Keep painting away.    


  1. I contend that I am a better teacher because of both of your blogs. And the reflective piece that happens from blogging is a huge part of professional development for me.
    Chickadee Jubilee

  2. I like that thought, Tammy, that we are in charge of our own professional development. It is up to each one of us how much time and effort we are willing to pour into crafting and sharpening our skills. The more we dig in and learn, the more the passionate we become about teaching!
    Conversations in Literacy

  3. I'd be the happiest teacher around if you, Kimberley and Sandi all taught across from me. Thanks for your post!

  4. I always like to read Tammy - and whenever I read her or you, I know I'm going be thinking! What a great thought, to be in charge of my own learning! Thanks for sharing! Sara

  5. I have to echo Laurie's comment-I look forward to every blog post from you guys! :) Love that Golden Gate analogy-I truly believe that we can only get better!

  6. Two of my favorite bloggers in one place....amazing!!! I love your analogy. Our job is never done. And that is why I love it so much. I love the constant learning, reading, challenges. I will never know it all and that just keeps me learning. It is a very special job we have.
    Curious Firsties