Alternate title: This balanced literacy thing can kiss my ass
Today was day 10 with the kids, and already I've hit a wall with regards to teaching reading. In spite of two years as a coach, I feel like I don't know what I am doing. I know I can't ever go back to the way I used to teach, because something about it just doesn't feel right anymore. (Maybe I've been brainwashed, maybe I've just evolved in a good way? Don't know.)
My morning lesson today was the pits. It was so bad that I decided to let my afternoon class have a silent reading/conferencing period instead of that lesson. Fortunately, they like silent reading and I was able to do several conferences.
The Region put out a curriculum calendar for the school year, which I have to grudingly admit is decent, and there's a unit of study for September too. I decided not to reinvent the wheel and use that unit, modifying it as needed. And I haven't been able to really put my heart into those lessons. I've spent a lot of time tailoring them to fit the needs of the kids and to work with the materials available. But I know they're ineffective, and I don't really know what to do. The kids have been patient and well-behaved, but I am not going to take their patience for granted.
I have one group of kids who are on level or very close to it, and don't need the hand-holding that I think the Region lessons provide. And the other class is a range of levels, but since that class has only 20, I can do a lot with grouping. The fact that I have such good kids overall makes me want to give them the very best that I have.
Writing this entry has been useful, though. As I wrote it I remembered the way I used to break my kids into small groups with different activities, and I would do a guided reading lesson with one group at a time, rotating all the activities until all of the kids had done each activity once. That would definitely work with my smaller class and maybe the bigger one too. I am also thinking about giving my bigger class a survey or something, to get ideas about what will be helpful to them. Since those kids are on level and pretty self-aware I would expect some good responses.
I just hope that I am able to figure out something clear and specific, and soon. Our school has a literacy coach and a lead teacher. I would say that they are both approachable, even though I hardly see the lead teacher, and the coach is still overwhelmed by boxes upon boxes in her office. Though I am the kind of stubborn person who prefers to do things without help. Besides, I have a feeling I'd just hear more of the same.