by Dr. Eva Konstantellou, Reading Recovery trainer
“Educators who are building a professional learning community recognize that they must work together to achieve their collective purpose of learning for all. Therefore, they create structures to promote a collaborative culture” Richard DuFour (2004)
Among the most powerful professional learning communities I’ve encountered are school literacy teams in which Reading Recovery-trained professionals, classroom teachers, and other school personnel problem-solve collaboratively around the learning and progress of their students around literacy learning.
Teachers on those teams work together to share ideas and teaching decisions and to ensure that their school’s comprehensive literacy plan includes effective safety nets for the most vulnerable of learners.
It is impressive to witness how these teams build broad ownership and shared responsibility for the learning of the lowest-achieving students. In the context of these meetings, individual teachers are often heard talking about the progress of “our children” instead of referring to “my children.” The message here is that the entire school community (administrators, teachers, parents, school board members and community leaders) is committed to the literacy success of ALL children.
Through regularly-scheduled meetings interventionist teachers and their colleagues
– Reflect on the effectiveness of the school’s literacy services
– Evaluate the gains of each child
– Provide Reading Recovery to the lowest achieving first graders
– Determine the needs for further help for some children who have received Reading Recovery (classroom support, small-group instruction, special education evaluation)
– Ensure on-going monitoring of children who have completed their interventions
– Build and maintain home/school connections
These teams provide the context for authentic dialogue around the teaching and learning of our most-challenged learners fueled by the conviction that all children can learn. The kind of collaboration promoted in school literacy teams helps create a common language around literacy learning that further supports Marie Clay’s belief that if some children are unable to learn we should continually strive to find the right ways to teach them.
DuFour, R. (2004). What is a “professional learning community?” Educational Leadership, 61, 8, 6-11.