The greatest gift I could have been given as a teacher was the people I was surrounded with when I began. I worked in a school where the culture of learning was sky high. Our principal made it a point to teach a writing workshop all year long. As a new teacher, I had our reading teachers and math specialists pushing in regularly to support me. I was on a grade level team of learners. I remember meeting with enormous piles of professional texts to plan units of study with my grade level partner, Kelly.
I also had a mentor, Caltha. At the time, she was just two years away from retirement. We met regularly, every Monday for lunch. I cried a lot. She listened a lot. She also gave me advice, that I still quote today…”There’s no such thing as a lazy child, Jessica.” Caltha was also open and willing to learn from me. She’d often ask about things I was doing in my classroom and try them out herself. She has become the vision of the teacher I want to be, always learning.
A few weeks ago, I read a slice written by Dawn called Adjust. Dawn included this quote from Tom Newkirk and used the same quote as an invitation during our faculty meeting soft start.
“A difficulty is not the sign of a flaw or an incapacity in us – it is an indication that we need to make a change. It’s not about who we are; it’s about what we need to adjust.” Tom Newkirk
During our faculty meeting, I wrote about this quote and how adjusting is my favorite part of teaching. I love seeing a problem or even just something that can go better and dreaming up a way to make it happen.
Our literacy team has recently been reflecting on a pretty big adjustment that we made at the beginning of this school year. In previous years, we had found ourselves reacting to data, specifically our midyear data. We often found ourselves scrambling to make adjustments. Realizing this, we made a more structured plan for our interventionist push in time during reading workshop. Our interventionists now have a quick fifteen minute planning time with our kindergarten and first grade teachers where they fill in electronic plans for their small groups for the week. This structure has allowed us to tweak our guided reading structures and practices…as a team. Both our intervention teachers have built on this model during their push in time and planning time with teachers. I’ve also been there to support this work during my coaching cycles. Together, we’ve implemented a K-2 adjustment that has made a big difference in a lot of ways.
When we met to review our midyear data this year, we spent time thinking about ways to refine our practices, layer in more word work, and adjust our teaching based on what we were seeing from kids. Dawn later pointed out, that in years past, we reacted to our data by pulling kids into reading support. However, this year, our “classroom instruction is more solid and we are talking about how to make that classroom instruction stronger…now that’s success.”
Adjusting has had a pretty big impact on me so far in 2020…I think I’m even going to adjust and make it my One Little Word for the year. In my work at school, I think finding ways to celebrate all of the adjusting we do all day may do us all well.