Scrolling Into the New School Year – How Literacy Educators are Continuing to Adapt and Persevere While Carrying the Weight of a Global Pandemic

Remote Learning
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I recently heard a song by Coldplay called “Everyday Life“, and these lyrics struck a chord with me:  “What in the world are we going to do?  Look at what everybody’s going through.  What kind of world do you want it to be?  Am I the future or the history?”  The video premiered on December 9th, 2019. 

Educators are a special brand of people.  Almost all of us care deeply about humanity.  We want so badly to make a difference.  For many of us, the events of this year have required a quick ramp-up in our ability to continuously change and move forward when there is so much going on in our current reality that we cannot control.  We have to reclaim some control in order to show up and make a difference for our students.  But how?  How do we best meet our students’ needs under these extraordinary circumstances?  What in the world are we going to do?  What kind of world do we want their world to be?

Responsible Teaching – The Impact of Literacy on our Students Lives

According to research done by Fisher, Frey, and Hattie (Visible Learning for Literacy):

  • Literacy is among the major antidotes for poverty.
  • Literacy makes your life better.
  • Literate people have more choices in their work and personal lives, leading to greater freedom.
  • Literacy is great at teaching you how to think successively – that is, making meaning one step at a time to then build a story.
  • Literacy soon becomes the currency of other learning.

As educators, we understand how critical it is that students learn to read and write.  We understand the massive impact these skills (or lack of skills) can have on our students’ lives now and in the future.  We know that we must do everything we can to provide the best possible support and instruction for our students each day.  Our schools and classrooms (in-person or online) should offer them the finest experience possible, because it can literally change the trajectory of their lives.  None of us will be perfect in this endeavor, but as we drive home or log off, we should feel confident that we did our absolute best.  Keeping up with current research regarding best practices will enable us to know that we did just that for our students and ourselves.  Fortunately, Ohio is taking action by arming educators with the tools they need to accomplish these goals.

“…as we drive home or log off, we should feel confident that we did our best. Keeping up with current research regarding best practices will enable us to know that we did just that for our students and ourselves.”

The Shine of Ohio’s Literacy Light – Providing Guidance to Effectively Support our Students

It’s a very exciting time in Ohio when it comes to language, literacy, and writing instruction.  As more educators and school/district leaders are studying the Science of Reading (The Science of Reading Podcast:  Guest – Emily Hanford), there is feeling of optimism surrounding the future of our students and their potential academic success.  The importance of  explicit instruction and usage of evidence-based practices  in the areas of phonological and morphemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and writing is coming to light, and Ohio is taking big steps to ensure educators have the information and strategies they need to support students effectively.  Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement not only outlines ways to efficiently support language and literacy, but also addresses how to further support students in all age groups, grades, and subjects. 

During this unprecedented time, many educators have worked tirelessly to create online classroom environments in which they can continue to use these best practices remotely.  They are navigating students’ social and emotional needs along with their own, and working to overcome these obstacles while providing effective instruction.  They are fighting against the inequities that have surfaced, and pivoting with each obstacle they face.  They are investigating ways to close “The Knowledge Gap” in our schools, finding new ways to teach guided reading and researching proven lesson ideas in all areas of reading and writing on sites such as the UFLI Virtual Teaching Resources HubWe applaud their efforts, and are inspired by those who are using The Science of Reading and evidence-based practices when planning lessons and delivering whole or small group instruction.

Let’s Connect This Year!

Literacy Leaders – we see you!  We appreciate your unwavering efforts and know that you are facing difficult challenges as you continue to push forward every day for your students.  We know that you are seeking out information regarding strategies that actually work when your students are learning to read and write, and using that information to help them to become successful.  The work you do now will pay off in spades for these children.  They need you to be on your game.  Use best practices to take care of yourselves, and use best practices to take care of your students.  You’ve got this!

Let’s work together!  Many of the topics covered in Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement will be discussed in our upcoming Regional Literacy Networking Sessions.  These sessions will be an opportunity for district and school literacy leaders to come together to engage in collaborative discussions around the statewide literacy initiative.  Our team is looking forward to these events, and details will be available soon.  We hope to see you there!

Mary Williams

I am a School Improvement Consultant who spent twelve years teaching and five as a Literacy Coach. I love animals and music along with spending time outdoors. My current favorite quote is: "Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later." - Og Mandino