September is largely a month of building relationships — with staff, with students, and with families. In my role as a Reading Specialist, I also want assessment and reading and writing instruction to be a part of this first month of school. Every day counts — right?! Maybe this comes down to my word for the school year: intentional.
Last Monday, at our first Reading Specialist Meeting of the year (at the Board Office), we were asked to think of a word. We shared our word with our PLTs (Professional Learning Teams), but we didn’t need to explain a reason for our word. At the time, my word was joy. Just like last year, I want to capture, reflect on, and celebrate those daily moments of joy. It’s so easy to let the day get away from you, and sometimes all that we can focus on is what didn’t work. Finding those joyful experiences often seems to be a way to move beyond the problems. I still plan on celebrating joy each and every day! It’s rare to find me not with a smile on my face, and despite our current educational reality, I feel fortunate to be able to say that I absolutely love my job — even on the most trying of days! That said, I want to take my joy goal and add to it with some intention.
You see, the more that I stop, think, and reflect on our meeting last week and these past few weeks at school, the more that I want a word re-do. My word this year is now going to be intentional. I think that there’s a lot that we can do — and not do — that will not only maximize the number of joyful moments in our day, but also increase the number of joyful moments in other people’s days. For me, maybe this is about …
- spending some time down in kindergarten over the nutrition breaks, when ECEs are often alone with students and some additional adult support can make a difference. Plus, talking with students when they eat lunch can be a wonderful way to find out more about kids and what matters to them. Relationships first … right?!
- capitalizing on every opportunity as a learning opportunity. Even when children eat lunch, play outside, explore a car ramp, or walk to the office, you can support literacy instruction. These moments also seem to be great ones to connect with kids, which always brings me joy!
I joined a kindergarten class today, and they were eating lunch. Why not make a list of some healthy foods? This ended up being a good vocabulary opportunity. ❤️ A. also identified initial sounds in the words. A way to explore sounds with others too. Can they add to this list? pic.twitter.com/W6VeOgWBIG— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) September 12, 2023
I wonder if this advertisement from today could extend to more advertisements and a sign-up list tomorrow. I need to bring out some clipboards tomorrow. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/bXmVkTHvbC— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) September 21, 2023
I didn’t get any photographs or videos of this experience today, but I did have a lot to think about. I’m glad that I was able to also connect with the classroom educator, who is looking at how he might be able to extend this learning with her. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/BFzsJU0yu9— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) September 22, 2023
After watching a syllable lesson in a kindergarten class today, I walked a student to the office. Why not extend this syllable learning, and connect it with vocabulary?! I shared this with the classroom educator for a home learning connection. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/lr2vDYV54j— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) September 14, 2023
- creating a contest or two for staff. I decided to take the plunge recently and start my Reading Specialist Instagram account. I think that a strong home/school connection is so important, and I know that many families are on Instagram. I knew though that asking staff to get families to sign-up would be one more thing that they need to do at a busy time of the year. I decided then to create an advertisement and make a contest. Who doesn’t like to win something?! Plus, we both get joy from this, with a staff member winning a gift card and me winning some more interaction on a new Instagram account. 🙂
- getting creative with how I can support staff and students to impact the greatest number of children through intentional planning. A couple of weeks ago, I shared a choice board, which was initially part of my plan. I still plan on using this to a degree, but after working through assessments with educators and reflecting on data, I think that I might have a little tweak to this. This change will address educator interests while also maximizing student support. A few other people are involved in this plan, so I need to play with it this weekend and connect with staff next week. The possibilities excite me though, and I think this plan will bring joy and learning for all.
- finding times to dig into data with staff and develop some possible plans based on this data. Everyone has a different schedule, and I know how time-consuming the classroom can be. I don’t want to add to anyone’s work load, and I want to be cognizant of the fact that ideal meeting times can vary for everyone. With duty after school, I can be much more flexible with my schedule during the day. Conversations with staff before school, after duty, or on preps, have been great! Sometimes, we can also connect quickly in the classroom after working through an assessment as a team. With educators picking what works best for them, everyone is getting the ideal time, and I’m just thrilled to have the discussions. Plus, when we look at data together, we can ensure that instruction is starting at the point where kids need it most. Intentional planning again …
How has joy and intentionality intersected in your educational experiences? I’m interested in seeing what the rest of the year brings with an intentional goal.