We have just over an hour each day to teach literacy in our new hybrid schedule. Just over an hour to teach reading, writing, and phonics/word work. Just over an hour to fit in Read Aloud, Shared Reading, Interactive Writing, Guided Reading, Strategy Groups, and or course Independent Reading and Writing. Just over an hour to hold conferences, get to know our students, and complete assessments.
As Literacy Coaches, we’ve spent part of the summer trying to figure this out in an effort to help teachers make decisions in their planning this fall. This has really driven us to ask, over and over, “What is essential?” We’ve tried to curate units of study by selecting the most important lessons, we’ve looked across a week (instead of a day) to make sure we are including the most essential elements of Balanced Literacy. We’ve reconsidered pacing and the number of units we might teach in a year. We’ve tried to plan for some flipped lessons where students prepare at home for what will be taught live at school, and we’ve thought about what can be done independently compared to what really needs to be taught in the classroom.
All the literacy work seems important, essential even, but this situation is forcing us to look hard at the work we do and make decisions about what really matters for kids. In the long run, I think working with teachers to make decisions about what is essential will have a powerful payoff. Another silver lining in these difficult times.