We are fortunate in our district to have Staff Developers from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project working with us throughout the year. It is a gift to have time with these “wise others” to study and improve our literacy teaching and student learning. Today we had a session with our K-2 Staff Developer. She is extremely experienced and ever so wise (about her teaching, about student learning, and about how to build capacity in teachers and coaches).
Our focus for the year is on small group, differentiated instruction. We are starting in Reading Workshop. Today Natalie showed us some different ways we might approach small group instruction. As we were working together we had questions. Here are some of the questions asked by teachers, administrators, and me, the Literacy Coach:
Should we make some Tool Kits for our small groups?
Do I need to do Running Records every time I take a small group?
How do I best use my Running Records to inform my small group instruction?
Should I use short texts for Guided Reading?
Do you have a good system for note-taking?
How many groups should I try to see in one Reading Workshop session?
How do you know that you have the right kids in the right groups?
What type of small group should I do (Guided Reading, Strategy Group, Share Reading in a small group)?
I found these to be such thoughtful and important questions, and so did Natalie. I was surprised at her answer. “Just get started! If you wait until you have the perfect plan with the perfect materials and the perfect small group, you will never do anything!” She went on to explain that we should dive in and start taking some kind of small groups every day. She admitted that the work would be messy at first, but that as we practiced and got better, we could layer in the more sophisticated work.
Yes, of course we want to take Running Records and use them to inform our small groups.
Yes, of course we will need some tools.
Yes, of course we should take notes on what our kids are doing and what they need.
That will all come in time, she promised us. But for now, just get started!