Last year, we discovered a need for collaboratively planned guided reading in kindergarten. So, under the leadership of Jess, teachers worked together to implement purposeful guided reading during Readers Workshop. The result was watching the kindergarten readers grow in knowledge and skill. In reflection, at the end of last year, our Literacy Team realized their was a need for the same guided reading implementation across grades K-2. We began the year with a plan, and we’ve watched it grow and live in classrooms.
This year, through our RTI, Tier 1 conversations. We’ve discovered another need – the need for guided writing as a piece of the guided reading. Reading and writing are reciprocal processes and we discovered that we were not honoring this for our students.
This morning, I walked into a second grade classroom that was wrapping up their mini lesson and the readers were off to independent reading. Carolyn, the classroom teacher, handed me an orange folder and asked if I could work with Peter through some guided reading. “Absolutely!” I said as I grabbed the folder and checked out the notes from his last meeting.
I positioned myself near Peter’s chosen spot and asked him to join me on the run. I handed him a booklet and asked him to write some sounds. He cruised through the work. I quickly reviewed long and short vowels targeting the vce pattern. As I watched him, it was obvious to me that he was owning the work. His work outside the classroom with a colleague was having an impact.
We put the booklet to the side and we reviewed the book that had been introduced last week. Through a brief conversation, I quickly learned Peter had a good understanding of the story and he was ready to read. I watched as he started to read. He actually paused waiting for me to start the running record. “You are reading longer books, now, I can watch as you begin and start later.” Satisfied with my answer he resumed reading. I watched and learned that he is a reader who is becoming successful at monitoring. I watched as he read fluently, paused at times to check the print and then resumed fluently. We had a brief conversation about the problem in the book and how Jack, Bella, and Rosie dealt with the problem. He created a sentence to write, I finagled it to incorporate the word work, and he wrote. Before I knew it, we were done and Peter was heading back to his independent reading.
I walked out of the classroom feeling proud. Proud of Peter, yes, but also proud of the collaborative work that is happening in our school. The classroom teacher knew I was coming today, she planned for me to work with this growing reader. I was able to target my teaching with a structure (the booklet) that I had just learned about a few weeks ago from a colleague in another building. Through hallway conversations with Peter’s “other” teacher, I was able to use language that Peter would be familiar with. Through curriculum conversations at grade level meetings, I was able to engage with Peter in a similar manner as his classroom teacher.
In her book Leading Well, Lucy Calkins writes, “A teacher needs to be able to see the broad landscape of where he or she is attempting to take kids instructionally.” I agree. However, I think it is the shared responsibility of all members of the community to know see and know that landscape.
We each have the responsibility in the teaching and learning community of a school to work with and learn from each other for the sake of each and every learner in the school. My work with Peter, reminded me of the power in this constant collaborative work and vision and I am thankful to work with colleagues who work with.