Under Construction: Contemplating A Different Approach

We’re nearing the end of the last week of summer before school begins. This was my first year experiencing this week as a Reading Specialist instead of as a classroom educator. As I tweeted a couple of times, I was very grateful for educators who let me play a role in their set-up process … and the many wonderful conversations that happened as a result.

This blog post is a bit of a different one for me, as I’m not sharing about a finalized plan. It’s very possible that what I blog about here will have to change completely or be modified significantly. That said, the start of the school year is a time of infinite possibilities, and I love the idea of thinking big. Some of the conversations this past week — particularly one with a kindergarten educator — inspired both this post and the ideas shared in it.

Last year, when I was hired as a Reading Specialist, I was fortunate to be paired up with a mentor. We had some days together to program, plan, and problem solve. One of the things that she shared with me was how she co-planned with educators for two week blocks, with the idea being that she could spend longer periods of time with different educator teams during these two weeks, and then flip and support other educator teams for the next two weeks. When she wasn’t going into certain classrooms, she had already reflected with these educators on next step possibilities, and then they re-connected again to plan what to do next. I took this same idea last year when supporting the implementation of some small group, targeted instruction, and I received a lot of positive feedback about this approach. Knowing that this year, Reading Specialists could be supporting kindergarten to grade 3 educators in different ways, I’m wondering if this approach might help as I get to know students, staff, and areas of interest. My discussion with a kindergarten teacher, which then evolved into discussions with a few more educators, has me thinking more about this approach for the upcoming school year.

The kindergarten teacher offered a great extension to this idea. As we spoke about different ways that I might be able to support in the classroom, she encouraged me to write my ideas down. What about offering a choice board?

  • Not all educators are going to have the same interests or need the same thing from me.
  • Not all kids are going to require the same instruction or support.

I was all about meeting individual needs as a classroom teacher. Why not do the same in my new role? With this idea in mind, I created a Reading Specialist Choice Board. Please note that I have not shared this with all teachers yet, and I will be seeking feedback from educators in different grade teams, the admin team, and my Reading Specialist PLT (Professional Learning Team). I’m sure that the ideas here will evolve and change throughout the year. Depending on our Board direction, school support plan, and student needs, I might even need to start again with this planning. That said, I’ve always appreciated insights from those that follow me on social media and on my blog, so I’m sharing this here.

  • What would you add?
  • What would you change?
  • What other feedback could you share?

I’m open to any and all ideas here. Just as our classroom spaces are always under construction until kids arrive, I think that this type of planning is as well. No matter what happens, I’m looking forward to an exciting new year of learning, connections, and growth.


6 thoughts on “Under Construction: Contemplating A Different Approach

  1. Hi Aviva, I like this as a starting point to conversations with staff. I do wonder if, before presenting staff with the choice board you could first have individual staff reflect on what their big wonders or challenges of practice are in relation to literacy. That would help you focus in more on not just what the support looks like but what the focus of those conversations and support would be. I’m also curious what will arise from the wild card. That seems very exciting! Good luck and enjoy the unusual but fabulous start up.

    • Thanks for the comment, Kristi! You remind me of why it’s so valuable to share. It’s nice to get hear different perspectives. I will admit that this choice board came out of conversations with some kindergarten educators (where they shared some wonders around literacy instruction). You’re making me think more about how other choices will evolve with different educators or possibly those in different grades. Hmmm … Definitely excited to see what happens next!


  2. This is very interesting and similar to how I structured my support when in the library! It worked really to help educators who were totally new and nervous about a topic (coding, maker culture) and wanted to observe first through the continuum to those who had a plan and goal for our collaboration. Looking forward to see how this evolves.

    • Thanks for sharing, Beth! I love hearing that this is similar to what you did in the library. It would be great to connect more about this. I’m curious to chat with more educators at school and see how this plan might evolve and how it will meet their needs.


  3. HI Aviva, thought provoking as always. As you know along with field trips to our nature centres our school board OE staff working within the schools as RT’s of sorts. We are looking at a different model in our support of schools for our environmental/outdoor education this year. You have me thinking sincerely not only of the choice board concept in particular as we strive to show connections to our School Equity and Inclusion Plans but also the concept your mentor spoke of in working with the staff more than a day at a time.
    Outward Bound is wonderful … everyone does a PD session and walks out thinking it’ll change everything and quick fall back into old routines. But by being there the following day, after a chance to reflect on the learning and collaboration and the next day … well – there is certainly a chance for deeper exploration.

    • Thanks for your comment, Rob! I think you make a great point here. I didn’t always do this system where I was in the same classes each day for a longer period of time, but switching to this routine, made a really big difference. It also allowed for stronger connections with students and staff, and a greater follow-through of ideas that we came up with together. Then, when I went into other classes, there were opportunities for educators to play around with the ideas on their own, and come up with other questions that could drive our next time together. I would love to hear if you give this a try and how educators respond.


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