Thursday, January 3, 2019

What's Your Resolution? We Have One Word For You!

A resolution…the act of determining, as described by Merriam-Webster.  A resolution is a buzz word this time of year…we are all in the process of reflecting, looking back, looking ahead, and then deciding what kinds of goals we have for ourselves for 2019. 

This year, Leach’s Literacy Training was busy…sharing our love for all things Balanced Literacy in more places than we can list.  LLT is also reflecting, thinking, growing, and setting goals.  As we reflect though, we want to share some encouragement in this Balanced Literacy journey.  Maybe you’re taking steps to take your learning to the next level.  Maybe you’re struggling with piecing it altogether and are feeling overwhelmed.  Maybe you’re not at all wanting to hear about anything “back to school” or “back to work” related right now.  Totally get it…but stick with me. 

Regardless of where you are in this great journey of education, the one constant is that we are always growing and learning new things.  Balanced Literacy has so many components- with so many moving parts within each component- that it can sometimes feel like you’re trying to eat the entire elephant in one bite. Especially, if you’ve been going through lots of training in the last year or so. 

What do we say to our students when they are learning something new…trying out a relatively new skill for the first time…relearning something after some additional instruction around a topic…and yet, they are struggling?
-You’ll get it! 
-Don’t quit!
-You haven’t gotten it…YET!
-Let me help you.
-Look at how hard you are working!
-I see that you are using _____ to help you figure this out!  Great thinking!
-This is hard, but I know you can do it.
-All of that great thinking means you are doing some GREAT learning! 

Look at all of that affirmation that we lavishly pour out onto our kids!  Seriously, kids in public education are so blessed to be in these learning environments where someone praises them for their efforts and growth.  You see, you aren’t demanding perfection the first time out of the gate.  You aren’t expecting kids to master content after hearing it in a shared reading lesson or whole group setting. 

So, here is our 2019 message to YOU as you start to wrap your brain around heading back to work.  Grace.  It’s a word but let's also make it a resolution. We all need to think about giving ourselves a little more grace.  Yes, you are rolling your eyes right now.  Yes, I am still talking to you, and if I’m totally honest, also to myself.

How often do you speak those words of encouragement that we listed to YOURSELF when you are trying something new?  J  I hear the giggles all the way over here in Central Texas.  I know, because I’m the same way.  Man, if I don’t get it right the first time?!  Or, if I make a mistake?!  Mercy.  Those moments are tough on me!  And there aren’t too many words of affirmation or “hang in there” self-speeches.  Nope.  Not at all.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to be pretty tough on me.  I don’t know about you, but perfection seems to be a bridge too far for me to cross. 

So, let’s plan to build one another up by encouraging the process, not the product.  Give yourself grace as a Balanced Literacy teacher and learner!  Let’s think about moving forward in a positive direction in terms of implementing Balanced Literacy in our classrooms.  Let’s start the process if it isn’t started…yet.  Let’s fine tune our practices if we had some ideas but learned something new or had our original thoughts tweaked as we went deeper in our understanding of it.  Here are some ways to share GRACE for yourself from some of the varied components of Balanced Literacy. 

·      Writing conferences…are you doing them? Any time that you are spending WITH a writer, AS they are writing is better than providing feedback after a final essay is submitted for a grade. 

·      Guided reading…it’s messy and there's never enough of you to go around, but that time spent putting the WORK OF THE READER back ONTO the reader is valuable!  BAD Guided Reading is better than NO Guided Reading and the more Guided Reading you do, the better you will get! 

·      Shared reading …remember MINI lesson.  Don’t try to teach ALL of your standards in one week!  Focus in on those hard-to-teach, hard-to-learn standards and really spend time in powerful demonstrations.  Set a timer…practice it when your teammates or spouse aren’t around.  Trust me…time flies when you are in-the-moment teaching. 

·      Work Stations…a focus on process, not product.  This isn’t meant to be a warehouse of worksheets.  Practice skills in meaningful, literacy-based ways! Talk with your co-workers. Have a party to share your BEST work station at the moment. You will be surprised how simple some of the BEST ones are.  

·       What have you done to build a reading culture in your classroom?   Maybe you’ve started creating a reading nook or reading space?  Maybe you are gathering books to beef up your classroom library organized by topic and not level?  Maybe you are working to figure out yourself as a reader so that you can better connect with your kids as readers?  Cheers! Well done! 

There are so many great things that you are doing with and for children.  

We just want to say thank you.  Thank you for welcoming Leach’s Literacy Training into your world.  Thank you for choosing to see what Balanced Literacy can do for your kids.  Thank you for the courage to try to something new…as terrifying as that can be!  Thank you for the GRACE you pour out on kids. 

Now it’s time for some GRACE for you!  Leach’s Literacy Training is impressed by the growth and commitment you have for kids and are anxiously awaiting our spring schedule and commitments and future interactions with each and every one of you! 

Here’s to a fabulous, LITERACY-FILLED, 2019!