A Move To Small Group Instruction: Part Of My Impact Story

Last week, as part of a professional blog post, I shared about how the Grade 1 teachers and I are developing a plan to support the roll-out of targeted, small group instruction in the classroom. It’s not that guided reading or other small group instruction is new to any of us, but after a couple of years of COVID and pivots online, we can all get out of our regular routine. Add to this the fact that we’re all learning more about the Science of Reading, and the impact that this might have on small group reading instruction. Report cards just went home on Friday, and all of the assessment and data collected and analyzed prior to writing report cards, meant that we could easily work together to form groups and determine goals for each of these groups. At our last Reading Specialist Meeting, we started working on our Impact Stories.

These stories include setting monthly goals, and as I shared with the Grade 1 educators — and now with all of you — the roll-out of this small group instruction was one of my goals.

Talking with the five Grade 1 teachers as well as my Reading Specialist mentor, here’s what we decided to do.

  • I blocked off Periods 1, 2, and 3 for four weeks. I would support two educators for the first two weeks and three educators for the second two weeks.
  • Each Grade 1 educator got to choose one of these periods, where they want to run their small group time. This varied a bit, as a couple of educators decided to split two periods (instead of choosing one) to better meet the needs of their students. Rules are meant to be broken … right?! πŸ™‚
  • The initial plan is that I would help to facilitate what the rest of the class is doing while the classroom educator runs their small groups. Then I can gradually move myself away from the need to facilitate as much, and could even run a group or two of my own. This past week, the most wonderful thing happened though, as the two Grade 1 teachers realized that the routines that they had already established with their kids led to increased independence, so we could quickly start to facilitate multiple groups in the classroom. We could also flip-flop roles to see the other student learning — and the small, targeted groups — from different perspectives. Again, I’m all for a little rule breaking. πŸ™‚

As I continue to reflect on this small group time and my Impact Story, I realized that maybe the biggest impact of all comes from a little flip-flopping. In both Grade 1 classes, the educators and I change groups every day … or every couple of days. This forces us to reflect and plan together. It also allows us to share our observations with each other. While many times our observations are similar, sometimes they are slightly different, and this new perspective can help with determining where to go next. My tweets tell a story of this learning and reflecting throughout the week.

Looking back on this week, I keep thinking about Jonathan So‘s blog post that Doug Peterson shared on his blog yesterday. Here’s the comment that I left on Jonathan’s post.

As a Reading Specialist, I have the power to set my own schedule. I could have arranged to take these small groups each day or even pull students together from multiple classrooms to maximize some targeted instruction. Maybe this would make things easier at times, as I can be more flexible with my schedule and I don’t have to worry as much about what everyone else in the classroom is doing. I could just focus on the kids in the groups. But then the power, the teaching, and the learning all rests in my hands. I love how the Grade 1 educators and I have planned, problem solved, and taught together. This has strengthened our relationships, while ultimately, benefitting kids. I know not every school and every grade has a Reading Specialist to support them, but I wonder if there are different ways that educators might connect, co-teach, and co-problem solve. When I was working with Paula back in kindergarten, this teaming meant everything to me. Now the team has grown and the focus has shifted a bit, but the benefits of these connections are just as strong. Thinking again about my Impact Story, impact might come with power, but it also comes with sharing the power. How do you do this? What have you learned as a result? This week’s move to small group instruction is a piece of my story, but I would also love to hear yours.


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