To Our Superhero Educators – A Few Useful Tools to Begin Your School Year  

Refasten your cape, educators, because this new school year has brought us more opportunities to save the day (or should I say several days!!) for the students and families in our communities in ways that we have never had to before.  We are thinking about, planning, designing, and redesigning new methods to target additional pressing and important issues that have surfaced, and trying to advance our knowledge and skills quickly and efficiently in order to consistently attack multiple obstacles head-on.  Your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.  Thank you for your strength and hard work as you strive to help ALL of your students to survive and thrive during this somewhat unpredictable time.  The devotion to your students’ wellbeing that you are demonstrating today not only serves as an example in the community, but also will likely result in the type of positive impact that lasts more than a lifetime for your students and their families.

Helping Your Colleagues, Your Students, and Yourself

As you pour your energy into efforts to support your students and staff, please don’t forget to make sure you are continuing to take care of yourself as well.  Here is a link to some resources that support adult self-care.   You may also find it useful to read through Ohio’s Whole Child Framework, as we know how difficult things have been for many of our students.  This framework offers valuable resources and guidance that serve to support schools as they prioritize strategies to meet the complex needs of our students.  Becoming informed about how to support yourself and those in your care will be very beneficial as you begin to navigate your way through the 2021-2022 school year.

What about Academics?

As we analyze our students’ academic needs, it is clear that we do not have time to waste.  Arming ourselves with the best and most reliable information is not negotiable.   What does that mean when supporting teachers and students in the area of literacy?  Here are a few places to start:

  • Review Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement
  • Take another look at the instructional materials being used in your district and/or school (and how they are being used), and determine if they align to reading science (Article:  “What Science Offers Teachers of Reading“, 4 minute video:  “What Science Says About How Kids Learn to Read“)
  • Determine if you and your colleagues have the professional training and resources you need to be successful (if not, begin a plan to make improvements in this area)
  • Create goals to support literacy efforts aligned with reading science and connect them to your school or district improvement plan
  • District, school, and literacy leaders – register here for our Literacy Leaders Network Sessions to learn and collaborate with other leaders in our region

(When it comes to all content areas and other topics, the IES practice guides provide a wonderful starting point!)

 

In Closing

We don’t really know what lies ahead of us this school year.  That can be unsettling.  If you are facing a day that feels overwhelming, please remember the incredible value and meaning in your work.  You alone could help change the trajectory of someone else’s story.  Arming yourself with knowledge about evidence-based instruction and strategies to support and encourage yourself, your students, and your coworkers will serve as an anchor from which you can draw strength when needed.  As always…you’ve got this!

Mary Williams

I am a School Improvement Consultant who previously spent twelve years teaching and five as a Literacy Coach. I also serve as the Regional Early Literacy Specialist for State Support Team 13. 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