Every year I like to sit down and write out what I am proud of, what I'd like to build upon for the following year, and some action items for what I think I can work toward. After I wrote out about a three page reflection and could barely feel my hand, I shared my reflection with the literacy professional development class that I teach. For our final PD meeting, everyone is going to write an end of the year reflection and share. This year has been a very special, challenging, and rewarding year for me as my first year taking on the job of literacy coach at the middle school I work at. Since it was a year of immense learning, I thought I'd share some highlights of that three page reflection with my ups and downs and action plan with you as well. :)
-Working with the sixth grade team to provide guided reading to ALL students at least once a week and below level readers up to three times per week on a consistent basis. In order to do this, we had to work as a team, purposefully plan and be on the same page, and be dedicated to the belief of the importance of providing students with small group reading instruction.
-Implementing literature study in a way where middle school students were able to have an adult-like book club. We purposefully modeled how to do a literature study and had a select group of students do a fishbowl literature study before asking students to read and prepare for literature study independently. The results of seeing students passionately talking with one each other deeply about their literature study books, talking within, beyond, and about the text without even knowing that they were was just unbelievable to observe as a teacher. It convinced me that literature study is so beneficial to middle school students, and I can't wait to continue it next year.
-Teaching writing as a writing process, not an assignment. I had the opportunity several times this year to take students through the writing process by immersing them in a specific genre, reading and noticing things are mentor texts within the genre they are writing in, having students write a discovery draft without worrying about grammar, just getting ideas out. From there, students continued to draft and revise, edit, have a final teacher conference, and publish. During the editing and revising, we would select two-three minilessons to get students to focus with one lense as they examined their writing. This flexible, yet structured, writing process taught students to see themselves as writers versus students who are just trying to finish an assignment for school. As a teacher, I felt like I was teaching students how to be writers versus helping them finish an assignment. I can't wait to continue to build my knowledge of the writing process by continuing to read and reread books like How's It Going?, Assessing Writers, Mechanically Inclined, and of course continuing to study The Continuum in order to get more ideas for how to best teach writing to my middle school students.
Places to Build:
-Part of the literacy framework is to make sure at the end of reading and writing workshop, students are getting a chance to share out what they learned as a reader/what they wrote as a writer for that day. Sometimes when I'm teaching I don't take the time to allow this to happen and make sure students are facing and listening to each other and their voices are heard. It is a definite goal of mine to do better with this next year because the benefits of having students find their voices and want to share their ideas along with the support sharing gives students who may not have had many ideas is so supportive to everyone in the class!
-Using data to drive instruction. It is one thing to teach to meet the Common Core State Standards or learn how to implement all of the different components of the Literacy Collaborative framework, it is a completely other art form to use formative and summative assessments from students in your classroom to purposefully plan for instruction. I want to bring more of the pieces together next year to make sure that I am using all of the anecdotal notes that I'm taking and using all of the testing to form a comprehensive picture of exactly what each student needs and plan accordingly.
-As a teacher of reading, I need to do better at teaching a balance between fiction and non-fiction. I feel like I can be quite fiction heavy and need to work hard to incorporate more of a balance and make non-fiction reading fun and enjoyable for students. I know a huge part of this will be getting myself to develop more of a passion for non-fiction reading.
-Plan a literature study with non-fiction books on the Civil Right's Movement (one of the topics covered in Civics). Use this as a springboard to teach minilessons in the Reading Workshop focused on non-fiction.
-Set up a note taking system with places for "action plans". For example, having a column for "What this student needs to know" and "Plan to teach" right on the note taking forms I will use would be helpful. Another thing that I'm planning to do is spend time before the school year and once the school year starts documenting WKCE scores in reading/writing, past Benchmark Assessment scores for all previous years, grades in Language Arts in previous years, MAPS reading scores, etc. Once the school year starts, I'd like to gather further data by doing a reading and writing survey, a writing sample, and analyze the Benchmark Assessment that I administer at the beginning of the year. From there, I want to continually reflect how to best meet my students' needs during individual, small group, and whole group instruction.
It feels great to look back at a year where I was surrounded by amazing teachers who worked their butts off to learn and grow as professionals, as well as teach their students how to be readers and writers. It makes me so excited to see where we can go next as a collaborative group and how each of us will continue to take our own learning journey and set our own professional goals as well!
One of the best things I have learned through my journey of becoming and going to school to be a literacy coach is that no matter how much I learn and try out, there is always going to be more. As an educator, getting into the same routine and always pulling out the same binder from the previous year can be a dangerous thing. We need to constantly be learning, reflecting, and trying out ways to improve our instruction and looking at the benefits that those changes make on students.
Hope everyone enjoys the last few weeks of school as everything begins to wind down. Take some time to self-reflect! ;)