Quick Tip Tuesday: Building a shared voice for a comprehensive literacy plan

March 9th, 2010

In Synchronizing Success: A Practical Guide to Creating a Comprehensive Literacy System, literacy leader Maren Koepf tells the story of how her elementary school developed and implemented a schoolwide literacy plan. One of the key steps, according to Koepf, is developing a shared voice among teachers. administrators, and parents. In this selection from the book, Maren talks about how you can overcome barriers by keeping the lines of communication continually open.

To activate a comprehensive vision, you need to keep a finger on the pulse of what works and what does not. Here, the component of shared voice becomes a critical measure of the real obstacles along the path. A continuous feedback loop from key role groups helps literacy leaders make decisions that will take hold. Your constant role is to identify the barriers that impede progress and to find ways to remove those barriers for each role group (teachers, students, administrators, parents):

*Barriers to learning
*Barriers to implementation
*Barriers to participation

While listening to teachers express aggravations about the ineffective systems or insufficient supports for implementing commendable practice and recognizing the burdens and constraints placed on administrators to meet the state, district, and staff expectations, I realized certain barriers needed to be removed to liberate a new paradigm.

“I don’t have time to go looking for the books or materials to go with every mini-lesson,” argued Kerry after a lunchtime inservice to share resources for teaching the strategy in question. Kerry had to plan for four reading groups, three word study groups, and math and science, so her exasperation was evident. Kerry is an outstanding teacher; her plea was not about resisting change so much as requesting support. If we expect our teachers to maintain high standards of instruction, then we must provide them with extensive levels of support. In response to Kerry’s expressed frustration, a list of library books suited for demonstrating specific comprehension strategies was generated. Instruction was not limited to these few texts, but the list alleviated Kerry’s pressure with ready materials for manageable planning.

Teachers, parents, and administrators are dedicated to helping students achieve. Sometimes we simply have differing perspectives on how that should be accomplished. Each member of a school organization enters the challenge from a different vantage point, and those points of view need to be articulated. Throughout our process at Moreland Hills, various teachers or parents have either disagreed with decisions or made adamant requests for additional resources or clarifications. Rather than viewing these communications as adversarial, we recognize them as treasure troves, revealing obstacles that need to be addressed.

Allow the differing points of view to provide you with a more inclusive understanding of what needs to be better aligned, supported, or eliminated.

Koepf goes on to discuss two more tips for creating a comprehensive literacy system through the use of shared voice:

*motivating a community of innovators and problem-solvers
instigating a tipping point

Entry Filed under: Literacy,Quick Tip Tuesday

Leave a Comment


Required, hidden

Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

New From Stenhouse

Most Recent Posts

Stenhouse Author Sites




Classroom Blogs