Thursday, May 08, 2014

Pushing for independent-choice reading

So... I had the meeting with my administrator to discuss my annual evaluation. Overall it went well. I made a strong push to reinstate my individual-choice reading IN CLASS. The administrator has been against it (!) and seemed to see it as "free time."  (Actually SAID that at one point. I somehow managed to keep my cool.) Well, I brought a bulleted list of how my practices for CR support quite a few of the Common Core standards while also differentiating both by student ability and interest level. I also had a couple of articles that collected some of the research that supports "sustained silent reading" (although I do more with it than a typical SSR program does).

Faced with that sort of reasoned, professional assault, my admin backed down a bit and asked me to see if the other English teachers at my grade level used student-selected reading in class. And I was pretty sure they didn't (after all, as important as it is to me, *I* backed down after I got told not to use it!) but I figured I could talk to them about why they didn't and see if they were interested in including it.

One of the teachers said that she felt like with it being English class, and all the literature we read together, that they already did a lot of reading in class and she didn't want to force them do more. She did have a small classroom library available for students who wanted to check books out.

The other teacher said that she had a difficult enough time getting through the curriculum she already had. And I couldn't help wondering just what it was that her class did if she was dropping entire units. But... I didn't say that. Actually I didn't say much of anything at all.

I don't feel like I have the authority to say "no, you shouldn't do that, you should do this, and here's why." I just... I feel pretty strongly about what I do and why I do it, especially the individual choice reading. I believe it's solid instructional practice. I believe it's what's best for students. I believe it's a better choice than sticking solely to the whole-class literature. And I don't understand why administration is telling me that I can't teach in the way that I feel is best, and other teachers aren't required to defend their practices.


Philip said...

Yeah, it's tough. I think teachers have to do what works for them, focusing on where they find success. My take: it has to be a mix. Teachers shouldn't force kids to read books they don't want to read all of the time - that would turn off many readers. But they also can't just let students read whatever they want all the time - that won't grow them as readers.

However, if a teacher is being successful (proving students are making literacy gains, improving, etc...) using just one or the other - then why not? If the teachers and students are motivated. If administrations force teachers into a pre-determined mold, however - one where the teacher feels stifled, that is going to be bad news for all.

Two to four cents.

It's good to see you posting again, Clix.

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