Jennifer Serravallo asked us, a conference audience of over 400 educators, to think back on our experiences as reading students. As teachers chatted for a minute about their memories, Jennifer walked around, listening in before she brought our conversations together. We laughed as we collectively remembered. There were SRA kits and trying to get to the aqua card.
Who can forget round robin reading when we counted lines so we could practice our part instead of listening to anyone else read? I know there were reading groups in elementary school, but I don’t remember if I was in the red robins, cardinals or blue jays. I was a fluent reader early, and I do remember being bored. I read ahead because I was either just reading at my quicker pace to lessen the boredom, or to make sure there weren’t any tricky words or names that would be stressful to read aloud. (Michael vs. Michelle, for example was a huge stressor for me!) Reading practices have grown since we were in school as students, and looking back feels like a good reflection as we examine our instructional practices.
According to research cited by Jennifer, “When things are challenging (And what could be more challenging than teaching in today’s educational climate?) we are more likely to revert back to how we were taught, than how we were taught to teach.” Take a moment with that idea. I did. (It probably applies to how we parent too!)
Now reflect on Jennifer’s next point: It takes 49 hours of professional development to outgrow your current practice, before you are trying new things that impact students. 49 hours! This number put me in immediate reflection mode: Is there enough time for teachers to learn? What slice of that 49 hours of time have I helped with as a coach?
As a new instructional coach these past several weeks, I have have been immersed in differentiating reader’s workshop professional development for teachers. Teachers choose a selected component to learn about and work on. They may want to learn more about conferring, small strategy groups, assessment or mini lessons, for example. As I plan for sessions centered on reader’s workshop, I spend hours learning more about the components. I read, listen to podcasts, watch example videos, take notes, etc. I know I’ve spent over 49 hours immersed in these workshop topics.
Teachers want varying levels of change — to tweak or to try something completely new. One thing seems consistent with all the teachers I’ve been lucky to work with: They always want to do what’s best for their students and what makes sense to them as teachers. As I spend 2 half days with teachers, along with their other grade level inservice time, I wonder about how quickly we can expect any tweaks or changes to happen. I know when I’m teaching, I often think I should be able to do something new right away — my coach would remind me to chill out when things weren’t working exactly how we envisioned it the first time. We need to be patient, coaches and teachers together. Learning is a journey, right? It’s going to take us at least 49 hours to get where we want to be –so let’s buckle in and enjoy the ride!
I learned so much at the conference with Jennifer Serravallo, and I hope to reflect on many parts of that learning in the days to come. I must have had a great time, as this was my reaction to meeting her. . .