Persistence, Practice, Power
September 29, 2020
I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about how to just keep it going. My former way of dropping into a classroom with a perfect new book and a semi-hidden agenda isn’t going to work for me right now. I feel a little isolated and I notice the learning community members around me are looking, well, tired. What is a literacy specialist to do?
Two of my colleagues prepared a talk for our district pre-opening professional development on professional collaboration. It was amazing and I asked them to repeat it for our learning community professional development last week. There were many tips and treasures in this presentation, but two have driven me over the last two weeks. One- what’s your super power? What is the gift you uniquely bring to your learning community? Two- What is your non-negotiable? What is the thing that absolutely you won’t compromise on?
As you might imagine, I found it difficult to think about what ‘gift’ I uniquely bring to the learning community. Many people said when asked, you know where all the books are… you can always find the right book for the right person… That doesn’t seem like much of a gift to me, but I guess you just have to go with what you have. Interestingly, that gift seems to go in the place of my non-negotiable, my one do or die, actual books in the hands of actual kids.
So last week, I did all I could to get books in the hands of students. It seemed daunting. Now I have to think about books for in school and at home, 48 hours of quarantining, a remote school librarian, a closed literacy center, and no assessments in reading for any student since March. It is a lot, but I took a deep breath and used what I do know. Most students in first grade might break down into two text bands. (thanks Holly and Sarah for this practical idea). Using that knowledge and a able but limited amount of low leveled text, I created two sets of book bags for each first grade. The first set had a text band from A-D and the second had a text band from C-E. Some teachers had already completed running records and higher band book bags were made for their class. These bags rotated through the learning groups might last through late October. In second grade, the teachers completed running records and we created book bags for each individual students.
Kindergarten needed nonfiction non-leveled books to introduce the concept of learning from a book. Sets of 60 books were delivered to each kindergarten so every student could have 3 nonfiction books of their choosing.
Over the weekend I created slide decks for 10 emergent storybooks and have begun filming read aloud, so that kindergarten students in their remote week can work on their storytelling. Along with that, getting books in our remote outpost for educators’ children, finding running record books to simplify the process for teachers, and beginning our benchmark assessment filled my days.
So what is this story about? I filled my days doing what I had the resources and the capacity to do, freeing up some teacher time to leave the building after school and plan for their remote learning. I settled into my must haves, books in the hands of kids and assessment for learning. Keeping this focus tight may be the key to moving forward in this unprecedented time.
When I left the building on Friday and returned this morning, the tasks seem just as daunting. Let’s just take them chapter by chapter.
Thanks to my literacy partners, Holly McKean and Sarah Defelice for the ideas and encouragement.