Day six – Literacy Leaders

Literacy leaders hold tremendous potential for shaping and changing the world. – Mary Ellen Vogt

Fridays are professional development days – no students. The first 2/3 of the class was spent discussing the idea and practice of Literacy Leadership. I was introduced to the International Reading Association (IRA), something I should have heard of but hadn’t. The site is a wealth of information (a bit overwhelming at first) but Peter pointed us to two specific pages. The first was the Professional Standards as set out by the IRA. The second was a description of the role of the Reading Specialist.  I’ll comment on the standards once I’ve had a chance to read through them. The role of the Reading Specialist we spent some time on and is broken down into three areas [this is copy and pasted from the site]:

  • Instruction—The reading specialist supports classroom teaching, and works collaboratively to implement a quality reading program
  • Assessment—The reading specialist evaluates the literacy program in general, and can assess the reading strengths and needs of students and communicate these to classroom teachers, parents, and specialized personnel such as psychologists, special educators, or speech teachers
  • Leadership—The reading specialist is a resource to other educators, parents, and the community

Reflecting on these areas and the Literacy Specialist in the school I work in confirms that we are doing good work at Shapleigh. Our Literacy Specialist is awesome. She is very supportive of teachers and student needs and will work with either or both to brainstorm strategies or talk about books. She also has been working with teachers to implement our reading program by modeling in the classrooms, offering professional development, and collaborating with the staff on changing/tweaking the program. She also monitors SRI scores and plays a big part in standardized testing administration and analysis of the data from those tests. Through all this work she is a constant resource for me as a new teacher for bouncing ideas off, asking for advice about students, and of course books!

The last 1/3 of class we spent in our small group – wait I just have to say that I wish I could teach at a school with this group of amazing people, we could change the face of education – of course we’d only teach English, Spanish, and History (I don’t think we have any math or science teachers in our group but the Humanities would be covered!) – engaged, caring, curious, helpful, nice, excited, collaborative, open-minded people that I feel lucky to be able to work with for this short time.  So anyway, back to our regularly scheduled blog post. . .

In our small group we talked about the Instructional plans we’d drafted based on the IRI and our observations of our students (if you missed an installment you can read about all that here: Day three – the IRI and Day Four – Goals) It was helpful to talk about what we had come up with and clarify all the questions we had. After a group hashing out session we paired up and went through a protocol that helped us assess our Instructional plan.

This is my favorite kind of professional development. Sitting around a box of munchkins (Thanks Jenn!) talking about teaching and books and strategies and asking questions about what we’re doing and how long the case study has to be (2-4 pages if you’re wondering) and getting ideas and getting energized about what we do, what we’re doing, and what we’re going to try. This type of loosy-goosy, kind of unstructured but still focused discussion is what I benefit most from. I can chime in or sit back and just absorb it all either way I’m learning and growing as a teacher and person – so thanks again group (we really need a team name!).

If you wonder where I find some of the cool websites I’ve mentioned (ex. you might check out my twitter feed, it is all (okay mostly) education based.  I usually just re-tweet what others post about links and articles and advice.


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