Making Choice and Time a Priority
Last week our building hosted our staff developer, Maggie Beattie Roberts from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. As a TCRWP affiliate school, my building has been very fortunate to work and learn from Maggie for several years. As a literacy coach I have learned so much from her over these years, she continues to push my thinking and supports my professional development as a coach. After Maggie’s previous visit we reflected and brainstormed a bit and came up with a plan for these two days she would be with us. This plan provided for choice and time for teachers, similar to the choice and time we believe is essential to running successful reading and writing workshops.
Consistency has been critical in our literacy development as a building and along with consistency that Maggie and I bring to the building is also responsiveness to the building administrator and the teachers. Challenges we face are the size of the building and the number of teachers on a grade level, because it is a building where all the district’s 5th and 6th graders attend. Staff development involves around 18 teachers because we include special education, ESL and reading specialists in our training. This most recent visit was an extra special treat because we had two days back to back scheduled. We have been trying to think outside of the box and thought of ways to provide choice and time for teachers in a more individualized manner, meeting the teachers just where they were as we do for students.
This makes total sense of course. We look at students, we consider their zone of proximal development, then give choice and time in order to develop literacy skills. In working in the same way with teachers we can set up important components that will best support their work as learners in their professional development. I created a Google form based around topics that Maggie and I thought would meet the building, teacher and student needs. Teachers received the link for the survey in their email and responded. Google magic provided me with a response form that I used to create a schedule of study groups and labsites. The schedule was a bit trickier than usual, but it worked out nicely and everyone received their 1st or 2nd choice.
Groups were set up around the following topics:
- Test Prep: High Leverage Last Minute Strategies
- Small Group Work in Writing: Revision in Informational Writing
- Poetry Anthologies (5th) and The Sounds, Images and Ideas of Poetry (6th)
- Planning Read-Aloud
Both days were successful and I received a lot of positive feedback from the teachers. So moving ahead I am following up with a new Google form and will plan my follow up work around the building.
This week in our professional learning communities we began our discussions sharing out work from the different groups. Today two teachers who were part of the planning team around Poetry Anthologies (5th) and The Sounds, Images and Ideas of Poetry (6th) were in our PLC and shared the planning around the upcoming units. During the planning session with Maggie we worked across the two different grades and curricular calendars. Planning out an immersion bend for the unit was a great beginning. We split into partnerships and planned out a poetry shop, a performance day and some centers and curated materials to share. During PLC today we extended the work that we started with Maggie and teachers are excited to begin this new upcoming unit. Today teachers volunteered as the point person for certain responsibilities around the planning, implementation and celebration of this unit. I am looking forward to watching this unit unfold and to the literacy celebration at the end.
Tomorrow in PLC I am looking forward bridging this work but also sharing out work from the small group sessions since some members of tomorrow’s PLC were in other groups. For now, I will get that Google form sent out. Solicit more feedback from teachers in ways that I can extend this work and also plan for the next two days we have Maggie back with us in May!
Time and choice need to be a priority for both students and teachers as we move forward in our teaching and literacy learning. Forging ahead I will continue to push myself to ensure that teachers have the time and choice that will best support their professional learning and also their students’ literacy learning.