We are honored to have author and educator Gravity Goldberg present at our third annual “Writing on the River: A Spring Retreat for Teachers,” to be held Sunday, March 31, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank. She will speak on the theme of how we can be our authentic selves in and out of the classroom. Gravity is an international educational consultant and author of five books on teaching. She has almost 20 years of teaching experience, including positions as a science teacher, reading specialist, third-grade teacher, special educator, literacy coach, staff developer, assistant professor, educational consultant, and yoga teacher. Gravity holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from Boston College and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is the founding director of Gravity Goldberg, LLC, a team that provides side-by-side coaching for teachers.
Our education director, Colleen Doogan, recently interviewed Gravity Goldberg so we could learn a little more about her before she speaks at our retreat.
Colleen: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Gravity: Because I’m hired to support teachers with reading and writing instruction, I lead workshops, model lessons, plan curriculum, and offer feedback. What I love most is creating a learning space for teachers to see their students in a different way. I get to bring a new perspective into the classroom, which allows us to let students be our guides. I feel the most successful when teachers trust themselves to make decisions based on what their particular students need next.
Colleen: What is your writing process?
Gravity: It depends on the project. Usually, an idea gets stuck in my mind and I end up thinking about it, talking about it, and researching it for a while. I’m a big planner. I list and outline. When I begin to draft, I need long chunks of time (like 12 hours). I usually draft a whole chapter in a day and need that sustained time. Since having my son that’s been a challenge, so my process is evolving. I’ve been writing shorter chapters that fit into just a few hours. I’m also a big reviser. I’m OK with throwing out whole sections, rewriting it, and moving things around a lot. I never feel finished so a deadline is how I know I’m done.
Colleen: Who was most instrumental in helping you publish your latest book?
Gravity: My editor, Ariel, approached me with the idea, served as a thinking partner, and believed I could actually get it done within a short time frame before my baby was due. Leo was also instrumental because he gave me a clear deadline.
Colleen: Can you describe a moment in teaching that you will never forget?
Gravity: One year when I was teaching third grade, Harry Potter was new and popular and I used it as a theme for giving students their writing notebooks. I had all the notebooks in a large box, and I pretended that it was like the sorting hat. I held each notebook, put it to my ear, and pretended it was telling me who it was meant for. I called the student’s name and the class cheered. I said to the class, “Your notebooks have been waiting for you. Go write.” I still remember the level of student engagement and the excitement they felt to begin writing.
Colleen: What does a day look like when you are not working?
Gravity: As a new mom, my days are filled with playing, reading books, going for walks, and changing diapers. I find moments to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. After 7 p.m., when Leo goes to sleep, I spend time with my husband and try to catch up with emails and work.
Colleen: What is a favorite book from your childhood?
Gravity: The Nutcracker, by E.T.A. Hoffmann, because my dad used to read it to me every year at Christmas. It had gorgeous illustrations and a magical story.
Colleen: What is a quote you tend to live by?
Gravity: Be here now.
Colleen: What would be one word that you would use to describe yourself?