For the past 19 years, I have been learning how to be a reading teacher. About 4 years into my career, I was trained to be a Literacy Collaborative coach. I’ve written about this training before and how it changed the course of my career and made teaching so much fun. After my training, I felt like I truly understood how to teach reading and I had a deep understanding of the reading and writing process. I was so happy to get to help other teachers learn the things that I had learned in my training. I really wanted teaching to be as enjoyable for others as it was for me.
In January of last year we started looking more closely at certain data that we honestly had discounted before. We dove into the phonemic awareness and phonics standards, we looked at DIBELS data and we started asking some different questions. From these conversations we began implementing a new phonemic awareness curriculum in K, 1 and 2. And, just like any good data collection, what we learned started to make us ask even more questions.
Now we continuing to ask more questions about the way we teach reading and I AM UNCOMFORTABLE! I mean I am REALLY, REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE but I love it!
When I was presented with differing ideas about how to teach reading I knew that I had two choices.
Choice one was to BCD and stay in my comfort zone.
Choice two was to jump in feet first and swim around in the unknown.
If you haven't noticed, I chose choice two and I thank you all for coming along on this journey with me. My job right now is to question our practices, collect data and help all of us draw conclusions about how we can be better. One of the things that helped me realize that I need to rethink my philosophy on teaching reading is this podcast called at a Loss for Words.
Here is my advice-before you listen, grab a notebook, a pencil (and maybe a barf bag). Do not come to any conclusions until you’ve listened to the whole thing…maybe twice. Then, come talk to me about it.
Happy listening and get ready to be UNCOMFORTABLE just like me.
A few weeks ago I was greeted by a hoard of excited 5th graders! They were all talking to me at once and I was sure that some terrible gaga or football incident had occurred.
However, I was very, very wrong. One of them began waving an index card in my face. I took it and read the words that were written on it. On the card the boys had written to me to ask if they could start a FULL HOUSE FAN CLUB. Yes, you are reading this correctly. A FULL HOUSE FAN CLUB. As I read further I saw that Miss Ferrall and Mrs. Wingfield had endorsed this club and offered to be the club advisors! They even signed the card!
I asked the boys a few questions and found out that during their JW YOU class that day, they had struck up a conversation about Fuller House on Netflix and Full House (my favorite television show from my childhood). They told me that Miss Ferrall and Mrs. Wingfield liked the television shows too and wanted to meet every once in a while to talk about it! The boys said they’d first asked to meet once a week but that the teachers thought once a month would be more doable. Well that was enough for me. The boys and I headed to the office and I asked Mrs. Deri to give me the “stamp of approval” (which was a rubber stamp with our address on it). I stamped the card and told them their club was approved.
About 10 minutes ago, Sarah sent me this picture. She told me that today was their first meeting and that she and Wendy had dropped a huge knowledge bomb on the group! That’s right, Michelle was played by a set of twins! The boys had no idea!
I love that because these boys got to work with a different set of teachers at JW YOU they have been able to make a fun connection with Wendy and Sarah. And to quote Sarah, “I love that our Friday classed let us meet so many other kiddos!”
Thank you all for the work you do. Don’t take for granted the opportunity to get to develop a connection with the kids in your JW YOU classes!
I hope you all loved Tim Kight’s keynote at Hilliard U as much as I did. I took pages of notes and just can’t stop thinking about a few things he said.
Here are a few of my big take aways:
“You better make sure you’re 20 square feet is changing at least as fast as the change happening outside your 20 square feet.”
-I’ve dug my heals in before and pretended that change wasn’t happening. It just made it that much harder when I finally had to give in. Keep moving!
“Don’t just be someone in a role, become the best version of you in the role.”
-Continue to be on a journey to ELITE!
“You’re either in a problem, leaving a problem or headed towards a problem.”
-I love this. It makes me realize that life is never going to be easy. I need to get used to it. Comfort is fleeting.
“Courageous people are afraid but they do the right thing anyway!”
-This is the best definition of courage I’ve ever heard!
“You can’t have the great things without the hard things.”
-This needs no commentary.
Let’s continue to learn and grow together. Let’s continue to push ourselves to learn and grow. There are no people that I’d rather have so close to my 20 square feet!