An update on this newsletter, the 2020 summer book study, and the blog (no discussion today)

A YA (young adult) series I finished recently is the four Jackaby books by William Ritter. The series follows a detective, R.F. Jackaby and his assistant, Abigail Rook, as they investigate the strange and the paranormal in a New England city at the turn of the 20th century. Jackaby has unique powers of “sight”, noticing people’s auras and energies as well as being able to see creatures living among them, hidden from others.

I wrote down a memorable quote from one of Jackaby’s and Rook’s exchanges (The Dire King). They were discussing how to best assess and respond to these strange situations.

“Everything is a science. Science is just paying attention and sorting out the rules already in place.”

This quote reminds me of my experience so far with this newsletter. Since initially trying out Substack for a weekly newsletter round-up in 2018 as an add-on to my blog, and then going to a paid version for this newsletter last fall, I have observed the “rules” that seem to be in play both from my role and how readers like you have responded.

One rule that has surfaced is readers seem to appreciate practical, straight-forward posts. This has become more obvious with today’s situation; our attention spans are constantly taxed by the pandemic and the subsequent anxieties it induces. So I have worked to keep things focused, useful and relatively brief.

Another rule is readers appreciate hearing from others - their ideas, experiences, perspectives. That is why I have started posting podcast interviews from authors of professional resources. It’s also why we continue to host a book study on the blog.

Speaking of which: During the five weeks that contributors will be publishing their responses to Engaging Literate Minds at, new content will not be published here. The study runs from June 15 through July 17. Two reasons for this: 1) facilitating the book study requires more of my time, and b) I don’t want to overload everyone with too many emails.

Two things will continue here during the book study: Wednesday discussion threads (about the book) and Friday newsletters round-ups (which will include links to all contributors’ posts for that week). Because there won’t be new content published for these five weeks, subscriptions will be paused during that time. That means if you are a subscriber and have access to all content here, your subscription will be extended out five weeks from the end of its cycle.

A third and final rule: readers are sometimes confused about the publishing routine. Should I subscribe to the blog, the newsletter, or both? It’s been a little confusing for me too. My current plan up to now has been to evaluate which platform is more conducive for my writing practice. While I have devoted eight years to chronicling my experiences and reflections as an educator on the blog, I am not finding it as inviting for writing as I do this newsletter.

Therefore, all new content from me will be published here. I will maintain the blog by reposting past content and offering that space to other practitioners who are as compelled as I am to make sense of our complex work by writing for an audience. Below is a visual of what to expect every week here/in your email, starting July 20:

Of course, things may (and likely will) change. For example, another day’s post may become for subscriber’s only. Or I will go to only four posts per week and eliminate discussion threads except for book studies and to request feedback.

What drives these changes is based a lot on what you as a generous reader would like to see more of, less of, or different. Any feedback you can provide in the comments would be very much appreciated. Your insights continue to influence and shape what is published here; we co-create the rules for learning and renewal. For the first six readers who provide feedback in the comments, you will be mailed a free copy of one of Peter Johnston’s earlier books, either Choice Words or Opening Minds. (Peter is one of the co-authors of Engaging Literate Minds; all three books are excellent reads.)

And with that, thank you for participating in this community of literacy teachers and leaders!