Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Independent Writing

We have been working in several classrooms and while everything is not perfect (I know, small baby steps!), progress has been made.  This young lady was so proud of her independent writing and pleased to show us her whole writing book.

There are little pockets of work being done, but I am not sure how to get this going in its entirety. I am not sure how to impress upon staff that this is a moral imperative and these students won't have a second chance.  As a team, we recognize it is hard work to get everything going, but this work is so necessary. The gal making the work happen in the classroom in the picture is an Educational Assistant. She gets the big picture and wants to give these students a means of communication.  However, she can only go so far if the teacher is the barrier and administrators don't support the program (mostly because they don't understand the need).

With that in mind, our team has thought about providing administrators an opportunity to learn the basics.  I know they are not going to be teaching the students, but it is important for them to know what SHOULD be happening in their classrooms.  To that end, we are thinking about an Emergent Literacy 101 for administrators in the fall.  You know, everything you needed to know in three afternoons.  Our hope is that with this information, support for moving forward will be more obvious and teachers can rely on administrators to help them move it forward.

As well, our final PD for the year is coming up next week and part of that PD will be discussing the barriers that exist, whether they are created by ourselves or for other reasons.  We will share an accountability tool that we learned about at our "day 6 of the our emerging literacy training" last week.  Just by marking down the times we work with each student on an area will give the classroom an idea of what is or is not happening.  I believe teachers want the best and think about how they will do the work.  Then the day gets away with them and another day is gone without any literacy instruction.  For example, my sister teaches grade 2 is an is a first year teacher.  She said she knew the students needed guided reading but it wasn't her best skill (she was just learning about it) so she "wanted to have it daily" but then the day would end and guess what?  No guided reading.  So she was determined to do better and decided every day after recess would be guided reading.  Simply by being intentional, the guided reading has been happening.  We need intentionality in our classrooms for students with significant needs ALSO.  We just can't let the day float by with NO learning happening.

As Shanker stated in his book, "Calm, Alert and Learning," we have to remember to always presume that the "upward trajectory in learning will continue, no matter how elongated it may be" (p 133).  We must presume competence and pursue an intentional learning program for all students, including those with complex needs!