This realization fully sunk in last week when I was in Burnsville, MN providing professional development on implementing Reading Workshop at the elementary grades. (I also provide independent educational literacy consulting for other school districts.) As I watched my co-worker and fellow literacy coach, Jess, educate teachers about the routines that needed to be built in their classrooms in order to implement managed independent learning and guided reading with children as young as kindergarten, first, and second grade, I realized that I have been operating with blinders on. I have been so stuck in my middle school world that I had forgotten what it takes at the elementary level for our students to become the readers and writers and the people that they are. I had always thought that I understood how students build their knowledge year by year, but my new understanding encompasses the idea of the effect a K-12 VISION can have in a school district. If we truly want our children to learn and grow as readers and writers, doesn't it make sense that the vision begins in kindergarten and builds year after year until students graduate from our school system? Whatever that vision may be, it should be consistent year after year, allowing for students to build and connect to prior knowledge. Teachers need to clearly understand that vision and have the tools and resources necessary in order to bring that vision to fruition in their classroom with their group of students. If I, as a middle school literacy coach, focus only on middle school students without understanding where they have come from before middle school and where they are going after, I have lost sight of the complete picture.
Learning about the elementary literacy teaching framework was eye-opening to me and really made me appreciate the building blocks that serve as the foundation in the students we receive at the middle school level. Jess and I had an awesome time with the elementary teachers at Sky Oaks Elementary School covering the implementation of a Reading Workshop/Balanced Literacy teaching framework at the universal teaching level and the use of LLI as a Tier Two intervention. Check out our anchor charts below that were developed throughout the week with the amazing staff at Sky Oaks. We wish them the very best in the implementation of Reading Workshop and Guided Reading next school year and had a blast being part of their journey!
This anchor chart was created during the LLI training we provided.
Finally, a huge part of our training was about just giving little things a try, and to take things day by day and do the best you can. This became a motto for us throughout the course of the week.
Summer is a great time to take a step back and to reflect on what is the big picture and to ask yourself if what you're doing is helping to accomplish that big picture. Keep moving forward, but make sure to make time for reflection to check in with how you are doing with meeting the vision you and your district are working for. If you do veer off the road, what can you do to get back on?