The Good and Bad: Support Language Arts

An example of the good….

Encouraging teachers to continually observe and interact with students during guided reading and independent reading and writing can enable them to pinpoint students who need help with high level thinking. You can support this teaching and learning belief by inviting teachers to share their observations, interventions, and scaffolds at department meetings and at full faculty meetings. Doing this shows your commitment to continually supporting students so they progress as readers. In addition, you can complete walkthroughs (for growth not targeting)during reading instruction in ELA and content classes and celebrate what worked well!  We are always told to lift students up- let’s make sure we do it for each other too!

Equally important, you’ll want to enlarge teachers’ knowledge of interventions and how to determine them by organizing book studies around this topic. Part of growing and being an effective language arts teacher is learning many different strategies to meet the needs of learners.  Differentiating, in my opinion, has been an over used term. But great differentiating is made more effective as teacher learns more and more effective research strategies while maintaining strong personal efficacy. Commit to great instructional reading that integrates the strategies to help students become better readers! Commit classroom libraries and independent reading.  Commit to passing on you passion for reading and writing to students.

Now for the bad…

The counter to this belief and commitment to improving actual teaching skills is the big business of education.  Many of us are sheep as we go into expos or meet with sales reps to be sold kool aide for us to drink. We drink and believe that new programs or new computer programs that will make it all better and good sales people can be very convincing. School divisions pay huge money for such programs and many staff see them as a solve or a fix.  Education is not improved when people have a fix it mentality and a belief that does not honor the most important, our teachers, who work with children every day. Fixing will always be a process- we do not fix by inserting a program. I will admit that some programs can integrate into a classroom but  none can replace the teacher. The often used method of throwing “stuff”on a wall to see what sticks is not in the best interest of students, teachers, and it can be costly.

I have and always will put my belief into teachers coupled with an understanding that professional development is critical as we work improve pedagogy.

Below are two books to investigate:

RTI From All Sides by Mary Howard, Heinemann, 2009.

The Reading Intervention Toolkit by Laura Robb, Shell, 2016.


Evan Robb, Principal Johnson Williams Middle School and author of:

The Principal’s Leadership Sourcebook, Scholastic, 2007.

Follow me on Twitter: @ERobbPrincipal

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