When I was a student in my teacher education program at university I was very fortunate to have some amazing instructors. My program was a little different than others.
My literacy and numeracy instructors were both award-winning coaches from the local school board who were on leave for a year to teach at the university.
Their classes were always so exciting. They really fired us up and taught us extremely practical and effective practices.
When I got my first teaching job I was really enthusiastic about literacy. I planned my 5 day shared readings with great care and took pride in my daily read alouds. I was always researching which books would be the best for my kindergarten class.
I was a full-day homeroom teacher for a group of 5-6-year-olds at an international school.
I worked very hard and I think my students took a lot away from their year with me.
Eventually, I moved on to another campus of my school and assumed the role of an elementary school teacher. Things were different now. I was no longer the sole homeroom teacher.
Our elementary school ran on a bilingual model. Half of the day with a Japanese homeroom teacher and the other half with me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t broken into two clear blocks. Instead, the daily schedule was really diced up and it was rare for me to get much more than a 40-minute literacy period with the students. I had some double blocks but was very strongly encouraged to use that time for Unit of Inquiry.
I found myself drifting away from the way I taught literacy with my kindergarten classes. Read alouds became less frequent and shared reading basically fell apart.
After several years of that teaching model, I had all but forgotten the way I once taught literacy.
Fast forward a few years to present day.
I am a career international school teacher and now I am at a wonderful school in Beijing. I’m at a school that doesn’t work on a bilingual model so my class is with me all day and I am given the freedom and flexibility to teach the best way I see fit for the students in my class.
My Principal arranged for what she refers to as the “Literacy Dream Team” to come to our school for a week of literacy PD for the week.
It was an amazing experience.
I felt like I was back in teacher’s college (I went to school in Ontario, Canada and that’s what we called it) again. Being with the literacy coaches at my school in Beijing took me right back to my days with my rock star literacy teacher in university.
Upon reflecting on my career, I can clearly see when there was a shift away from being as effective as I could with regards to literacy.
I can clearly see it in my mind. I can see when I drifted away from the model that works/ed best.
Reflecting is a good thing.
I’m excited to get back into the literacy game as a much more excited and effective teacher.
Daily read alouds are a thing in my class again as are well-planned 5-day shared readings and guided readings.
It’s time for my students to get the best literacy experience they can!
About the Writer:
Kevin O’Shea is an IB/PYP educator currently based in Beijing, China. He is a father, husband, and avid conservationist. Kevin is also the host of the upcoming Making Better Teachers Podcast as well as the host of the long-running Just Japan Podcast.