For some reason, in the past few weeks I’ve noticed that many of our kids skip down the hallway. I've seen our littlest kids do this an even our 4th and 5th graders.
My first “teacher instinct” is to say “slow down, no skipping in the halls” but I’ve been stopping myself and instead I’ve been saying:
“Wow! You seem happy today! Look at you skipping down the hall!”
Children have responded with big toothless grins, hugs and giggles. I challenge you to “count the skippers” too. It’s amazing how much joy it brings me each time I see a “skipper” and I think it will do the same for you!
For the past 19 years I have been on a journey as an educator. I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be trained as a Literacy Collaborative coach. This training truly changed the trajectory of my career. I’ve written about this many times and I’m still forever grateful for the leaders who saw something in me and helped me on my journey. After my training it seemed as if a whole new world opened up to me. I understood the reading and writing process; I could listen to a child read or conference with a writer and quickly identify areas of strength and weakness which would lead me to future teaching points. And, for the past 19 years I have continued to learn about reading and writing practice within the context of the literacy collaborative framework. And, while I never believed that I would be finished learning, I must say that there came a point within the last few years that no matter what I read about reading and writing practice it just didn’t surprise me anymore. And, I was getting bored.
Then, the greatest thing happened. The conversation began to change. There was a shift. We began looking more closely at phonemic awareness and phonics. I began digging into our DIBELS data and having conversations about what to do when our students weren’t responding the way our LLI intervention system indicated that they should be. I could no longer be satisfied with the answer that these children were in need of special education services and I could no longer justify keeping children in an intervention that wasn’t working without having an option of something else to try.
That’s where all of you came in. I started engaging you in conversation about our data and you started asking questions and noticing that some of our kids were not responding to our teaching as well. And, YOU were hungry for more! This rejuvenated me! Just when I was getting bored a whole new world of reading instruction and a whole new set of questions opened up to me. Now, for some, this could be overwhelming and stressful; but to me (and I think to you too) this was fuel! I am fueled by the possibility of adding to our instructional practice so we can do even more for our students.
Today, I spent the afternoon speaking to the Director of Literacy Instruction from Marysville and a group of principals. The team shared the assessments they use; the data they collect; the ways they have adapted the Literacy Collaborative framework; their RTI model; and the additions they’ve made to the support that their reading teachers give to students. The information I gathered was so exciting because we are closer than we thought to being ready to shift our instruction to meet the needs of even more kids. What has taken them 4 or 5 years to create, we have figured out in the last few months.
Our kindergarten and first grade teachers are ready to begin using an Phonemic Awareness program called Heggerty during the word study portion of the framework. We are providing multisensory phonics instruction as an option for our Title students. With a few more tweaks we are going to be leading the way in reading growth for our kids. I guarantee it.
What I’ve learned the most from these recent discoveries is that I need to keep asking questions and to make sure that I do not settle by falling into the trap of “the way we’ve always done it”. I am excited for the next phase in our learning journey together.