October 26, 2012
Meeting Irene Fountas
Today I met Irene Fountas. For those of you who don't know who she is or why I would do an entire blog post about meeting her, all I can say is that I believe she is a brilliant mind that was and still is responsible for creating a framework for teaching reading and writing to students. If you have ever heard of the Literacy Collaborative program, she is the the Fountas of Fountas and Pinnell, responsible for putting a framework together for teaching students Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop, Word Study, Guided Reading, Literature Study, and Guided Writing. I have pictured for my whole time training at Lesley University for the intermediate literacy coordinator training what it would be like to meet Irene. So finally today, on the last day of my training out in Cambridge, she came into our class and met with us in a small group circle talking about adult learners and the coaching process. It was so refreshing and inspiring to hear her speak and get the opportunity to ask questions and comment on my views and response to what she was saying. She was so humble and kind. She spoke extensively about not pushing the program as "Literacy Collaborative" to our teachers who we are coaching, but instead to ask the question of, what do we want for our students to take away as readers and writers? What are our goals for what we want our students to learn? Following this by the fact that the Literacy Collaborative framework is simply a framework in order to allow teachers to organize their teaching in order to meet the goals for their students. Literacy Collaborative is grounded in research, theory, and rationale, and it is simply a tool for teachers to use. In middle school, it is a complete shift in teaching, and therefore, it is hard, but change is always hard. Shifting from whole-class novel units and explicit writing projects to choice in reading and writing is unnatural because it's not what middle school teachers have done in the past. As a middle school literacy coach and teacher, I am beginning to construct my knowledge of best practice and how to meet the learning needs of my students and my understanding of theories and practices continues to change because I am a LEARNER! People who are lifelong learners continue to learn. I learned from Irene Fountas today that I simply have to say sometimes, "My understanding of that right now is .... and it has changed from last year when my understanding was this....." If I want to model to the teachers that I coach that taking on this framework is all about constructing knowledge and adjusting that knowledge with new information, then I must live and breathe this as well. Meeting Irene Fountas provided a clarity to me today with the work that I am doing inside the classroom and with coaching the teachers at my middle school.