Tag Archives: Reading Specialist

Barbara in the Bookstore

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Last night, a friend and I decided to go to a bookstore to look for picture books for our Interactive Read Alouds. This always is a dangerous proposition for bibliophiles, even at a store that only charges half price and gives a teacher discount! Like Alice in Wonderland, it is easy to fall down the proverbial “rabbit hole” of buying books…

“How far did I fall?” you ask.

Happily, I set a one hour limit for our excursion, and, because, in a bookstore, I tend to feel like I’m shopping at a jumbled garage sale, I only left with two carefully selected books. I was well under budget, too. (Alas, my friend fell further than me…her wallet was emptied more than mine.)

“And…tell me what you bought,” you add.

Books for IRA

I bought one brilliant twist on a fable, Hare and Tortoise, by Alison Murray. I think my first grade students will enjoy the humorous rendition of this classic. Such playful word choices such as “…she trundles…she tootles…she tiptoes…” and clever scientific references like “The Tortoise-Slow and steadicus” and “The Hare-Leapus swifticus” make this book delightful. The colorful illustrations will charm the reader as well. I can’t wait to read it to my students to see their reaction. I’m expecting lots of laughter!

The second book I bought is Lost in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, a fantasy book (where animals talk) that teaches how newborn fawns, who are born without scent, spend the first 2 weeks of life without their mothers. The animals of the woods try to help the fawn because they think she is lost. The exquisite photographs enhance the story by showing the beautiful woods in which the fawn lives. Hopefully, this gorgeous book will engage the listeners and teach about the life of a fawn and other forest creatures. My plan is to incorporate this book to support our informational writing unit.

P.S. I have $35 more dollars to spend on Amazon! More book information to follow.

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I Will Be the Agent of Change

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Trust is something that seems to be universally valued. Research suggests that increased trust correlates with increased student performance. Research reports that low-performing schools with significant gains have a perception of trust between students and staff. Even though trust is not the only contributor to student growth, it is there when there is growth.

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Trust is something that seems to be universally valued. Research suggests that increased trust correlates with increased student performance. Research reports that low-performing schools with significant gains have a perception of trust between students and staff. Even though trust is not the only contributor to student growth, it is there when there is growth.

The questions for me, a literacy coach, become: How can I become part of the solution to growing trust in my building and with our staff? Over what do I have control? What can I do?

I believe trust can start with one. The Golden Rule (not in vogue so much these day, but it is foundational to my philosophy) could be a starting place. How do I want to be treated? How could I treat others the way I want to be treated?

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Believe every teacher wants to do his/her best. Believe every teacher wants his/her students to succeed.
  2. Remember that we are all learners. It is OK not to know everything right now. It is OK to make mistakes and take risks. (Remember that I make lots of mistakes, too.) Give people space to grow and not be perfect RIGHT NOW! Let people take risks. Honor the process. Where is that teacher on the continuum of learning? Are they trying, even if not perfect, to learn…try out new things…be innovative…?
  3. Have the best interest of others at heart. Do everything I can to protect those interests.
  4. Do what I say I will do.
  5. Learn, learn, learn. Be competent in my job. Do my job with excellence.
  6. Be a person of integrity. Always strive to be honest.
  7. Be as open with others as I possibly can.
  8. Care about others. Ask about their lives, children, successes, difficulties...just care!
  9. Communicate effectively and openly.
  10. Be available.
  11. Invite others into the decision-making process, especially when the decision has an affect on them. Collaborate in problem solving.
  12. Be open to another’s ideas, even if it is the opposite of mine.

Trust is important to me. I remember times I felt that I wasn’t included or invited or cared about. I want to treat others differently so they don’t have to feel like I did.

I will be the agent of change!

The Loneliness of Coaching

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I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness of coaching.  

After our district had investigated and chosen a coaching model to support a balanced literacy model, complete with Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops and developmentally appropriate word study instruction, excitement filled me. The kind of excitement that a preschooler who believes in the magic of Christmas feels, the kind of butterflies-in-my-stomach excitement, the kind of I-can’t-sleep-because-it’s-hard-to-wait excitement! Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to continue their professional learning at The Ohio State University?  Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to bring change, with its accompanying refreshment, into her career?  Who wouldn’t want to opportunity to walk alongside teachers and reflect with them? Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to affect student outcomes on a building-wide scale?  I would!  So excitement filled me as clicked Submit on my computer.

Happily, the day came when our principal told me the wonderful news- I would be the new Literacy Coach!  Willingly, I sacrificed summer freedom for intense training.  Contentedly, I spent long hours, post-workday hours, planning and preparing for my lab classroom. Cheerfully, I taught and experimented and reflected and improved my practice that first year.  Voluntarily, I attended webinars and on-site training to perfect my craft, to prepare to be the best coach I could be. Gladly, I reflected with and was coached by the University trainer on my teaching and practice.  All this was done with the glorious vision to help teachers, to get to know them, and to reflect with them.  All this was done for the learners in our building.

Then, the reality of the rough road of coaching that stretched ahead collided with my dreamy vision.  Who would have ever thought that teachers didn’t want to invite the coach in?  Who would have ever thought that teachers didn’t want to reflect on their practices? Who would have ever thought teachers didn’t want to improve their practices?  Who would have ever thought teachers wouldn’t want to work with, get to know, collaborate with the coach?  It was like being dressed for a 90 degree day, but instead, finding a -25 degree, frigid blast bombarding you in your face!  

I have moved forward from that day my joyous dreams of coaching were shattered.  I have moved into a new reality, one of building relationships, of taking baby steps, of providing appropriate professional development, of gently nudging teachers to move to best practices, of celebration.  I have moved on to acceptance that I am no longer “one of them.”  I have moved on to acceptance that my support team is mostly other coaches in the district.  I have moved on to a new dream of coaching, a dream to help teachers shift paradigms and to embrace disequilibrium in order to grow readers and writers.  Coaching has taken me on a journey.  Coaching is a journey.  Coaching is my calling.  

But, I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness of coaching.