Thursday, June 12, 2014

Change & Possibility

"If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed, the vision pulls you."  -- Steve Jobs

After days of sorting, packing, pitching, putting things away, I looked around the now empty classroom.  It was in this moment that I realized for the first time in 26 years I was saying goodbye to spending part of my day in a classroom.  Each year, for 26 years, I've become entwined in a community of learners for a year.  Each year we've learned to share space, we've helped each other discover new learning, we've shared books, and we've laughed together.  Even during my years as a Reading Recovery teacher and a Literacy Coach I was still in a classroom for half of my day.

Suddenly I stood in the doorway and realized the significance of my decision to move to a reading intervention position in my building.  It was time for a change.  I like change.  I thrive on change.  I'd been teaching first grade in the same space (well, nearly the same space --- long story) for at least 8 years.  That's kind of a record for me and speaks to the community I am a part of which always pushes my thinking and keeps me laughing at the same time.  When I heard of a primary reading intervention spot opening up in our building, I'll admit I was intrigued.  There was so much possibility there.  The idea of thinking about something new was exciting.

As the possibility became a reality I was excited, but I was also a little worried.  How would I feel not having a classroom community?  What about reading aloud to a classroom of students?  What about not sitting beside writers every day?  What about technology?  What about my amazing team?

As I looked around the room, I took a deep breath and tried to gain perspective.  Walking to the new room I would use as a hub in my work with readers I started to consider the new possibilities and determine ways around potential roadblocks.  Having just come from a classroom, I have learned a lot I hope will help me in this position to support readers and teachers.  From my point of view as a classroom teacher I have learned many of the benefits of reading support and some of the challenges readers receiving support face in the classroom.  In my work as a Reading Recovery teacher, my friend, Jen Morgan and I, worked to consider classroom transitions.  This will be important to think about in the months to come.

This summer, I will be contemplating possibilities.  My bookshelf is stacked with books to read and reread about reading instruction, intervention, and shaping readers.  I'm keeping a running list on my phone of ideas I may want to consider as I begin a new year.  I'm rethinking "community" and making mine bigger.  I'm considering how I will collaborate and share information with teachers to make it easy for them to access without taking much of their time, yet allow us to stay consistent in our messages for readers.  I'm wrestling with Google vs. Evernote.  I'm thinking about technology tools and applications that will purposefully support the readers I will see each day.  I'm planning ways to transition into a new year and get in touch with readers as they do the important work of learning routines and finding their place in their classroom communities in the first weeks of school.

This summer, I'm planning possibilities.  I'm looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges that are ahead.

Let's Connect
If you work in this capacity and you have thoughts/suggestions/tips you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments.  I'd love to build connections and learn from you.  If you work with readers who receive support and you have have thoughts/suggestions/tips you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them.  I'm interested in knowing about books that have shaped your practice, challenges you've faced, organizational tips, planning suggestions, your instructional framework, structuring days that work for students and teachers, and much much more.


  1. Cathy!
    I am one of the Colorado ladies who attended the 2009 conference in Michigan. What a fabulous few days that was! I am soooo excited to hear about your career change. After 20 years in 2nd, I am now a reading interventionist. I began my immersion by reading and listening to Richard Allington. Great beginning! What are you planning to read?
    What a gift to be able to learn with you!
    I am currently in a Reading in the Wild Book Club!

    1. Jean,
      It just makes me smile to see your comment. That was such a fun conference!

      How long have you been in the intervention position? Are you glad you made the change?

      Richard Allington is a must-read this summer. I also plan to spend some time rereading Marie Clay, Pat Johnson, and Pinnell/Fountas. Many people have mentioned "When Readers Struggle" by Pinnell/Fountas. I've also added a few new titles to my stack as well.

      Have you read Rethinking Intervention by Shari Frost? It is published by Choice Literacy. It helped me to really think through how I will use my time to support readers next year.

      I'd love to stay in touch. I have a million questions I'd love to ask. Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Do you have a blog?


    2. Cathy,
      No Facebook, no Twitter, no blog...I read your blog and those on your list. You guys always keep me thinking and learning.
      Your blogs are incredible! I am so inspired to learn and to write because of you and the blogs you list.
      I am going to begin the Literacy intervention job in the fall. I just don't know how to give up workshop! I think I can include writing intervention, as well. My principal is a data guy and thought right away of my using DIBELS, and, shudder, Burst (DIBELS remediation program...what a rip off!!!). I have begun to work on him to start thinking...more choice, more reading. We have the LLI from Fountas and Pinnell, and I don't mind using those books. But I want to give these kids more reading that they choose and more talking and writing about their reading!!! Dilemma. . .
      So...I am ready to begin my journey to the next phase. Oh, I have a whole classroom to call my own!!!
      Would you mind just including me via email when possible? I will continue to read your blog.
      Thank you!

  2. While I will mss you across the hall, I am excited to have you in this new position! You will bring so much to our larger community and we will all benefit from your flexible and inspiring ways of thinking! The read aloud chair in my room is ALWAYS open to you my friend.

  3. Cathy - I would love to figure out a way to share all my intervention tips with you while you share all your classroom knowledge with me! I'm finding myself randomly gathering ideas and plans. Make sure you drain Michelle's (@litlearningzone) wonderful brain - she is an awesome resource.

  4. How did I just see this?!!! I had this position for three years before I decided to go back to a classroom. I loved the position but there was not enough funding and I was sick of being worried about my position each year.

    Anyway, one thing I loved to do was form book clubs with the kids who came to intervention. They went back to their classmates and shared their excitement about reading. It was awesome. Also, outside my door I posted books that changed my thinking and asked them to tell me theirs. I used iPads a lot to help kids retell stories and share their learning (think Pixie). It's a GREAT job, especially if your administration lets you be the professional. I used some of LLI and combined it with iPad work. What ever it took to get kids back on track. I've got lots of ideas! Yay you!