What. A. Year!
This has been a fast paced year and so much has happened. My focus this year has been on emergent literacy and getting the word out that EVERY SINGLE STUDENT deserves a real literacy education. At the beginning of the year our superintendent stated that every student needed to learn how to read. He said, "Every" so that has been our message all year. We have continued to work in our Individual Support Classrooms and we are seeing some great stuff happening. One class in particular has truly embraced this work and we are seeing a great deal of payoff. One story I love is of a young lady who does not speak with her voice but she CAN read. Her teacher asked what word she wanted at the end of her sentence (they were playing with the sentences from a predictable chart). When the teacher showed her a choice, she took her time, giggled at the word she was picking and added the word that made the sentence, "I want to be a princess." She was excited to share her work and while wait time was needed (and man, don't we all need to do more wait time!), She knew what she wanted to write. It was beautiful.
Back to the beginning: We took a group of consultants to Camp Alec last summer to learn with Drs Karen Erickson and Dave Koppenhaver for a week. We lived at camp with the kids and while they played and had an amazing camp experience, we learned. We learned more about supporting students in literacy and assessing their learning. It was a very fruitful experience and we learned a ton. If you can get to camp for this week, DO IT! (Just don't eat the Tater tot casserole). You will learn from Karen and Dave and you will learn from the kids. They were amazing teachers. We brought this back to our school district and have been working tirelessly to get teachers implementing this work.
Teachers and administrators have had the opportunity to learn from our team and we even had an invite to our regular monthly principal meeting. Teachers are using emergent literacy to work with included children also and are finding when students are really learning, much of the negative behaviors they observed prior were disappearing. The students were engaged in the learning.
This week we are preparing to present to teacher and educational assistant teams who will come and learn and then plan on how this will take place in their classrooms. Exciting.
Do we still have barriers. You bet, but we know if we are persistent, all staff will see the benefit of learning for all.