Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reflecting on Core Beliefs

My mind never seems to shut off in thinking about reading and writing instruction. As the holidays are approaching, it's a good time to refresh our thinking on some core beliefs in order to help keep a sense of focus with our students in the midst of our hectic daily schedules.  The following reflections are not original, flashy, or unique to me, but these thoughts keep coming back to me week after week, and I know that if these are truly in place, then I can rest assured that the foundation of my work is at least solid, and I can build on that foundation with other skills and learning objectives along the way.

  • Students need lots of time for reading and writing.
  • We need to promote the love of reading in everything we do throughout the day.
  • Noticing when students reflect honestly and thoughtfully about their learning is one of the greatest joys of teaching.
  • Differentiating for our students' needs is important in order to truly help them grow meaningfully.
  • Planning for differentiation takes time.  It is not a perfect process every day, and trial and error is okay, as long as we have kids' needs at the forefront.
  • Students need to have lots of choices in their reading and writing workshop.
  • Students need to be actively involved in creating reading and writing goals alongside the teacher.
  • We do not need to have parents "sign off" on reading logs each week when authentic reading habits are the goal. However, using a different tool such as reading lists can help students feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they've read, as well as provide a record of accountability.
  • We can help grow our kids' test scores through more reading and more writing.
  • Don't ever lose sight of the main thing:  To help kids learn to love reading and writing.  A lot.
A student of mine showed me this reading bookmark that she had created recently.
The message I got when I first saw this bookmark is that teaching kids the joy of reading always has been, is currently, and always will be, the key to our work in teaching reading.  Amazing the perspective that our students can provide for us on any given day!

In the midst of how busy I am throughout a given day, I must remember these core beliefs.  There are dozens more of them.  I know that when I follow through and keep my focus, both my students and I will benefit, and we will remain motivated and encouraged as readers and writers no matter how busy we may be.

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