Where are they --- really? Not where should they be? Not where do I wish they were. Not where are they usually at the beginning of the year. Where are they right now? As I transition from the days of building relationships toward important next steps in learning, I'm trying to challenge my own assumptions. Am I working where students are right now?
As I reflect upon the literacy information I've gathered through observations and assessments, I consider:
- What routines did they follow in their classrooms last year?
- What do readers have under control right now?
- What strategies do they use consistently?
- What do they need to take NEXT steps?
- Are my focus lessons setting students up to do the work I'm asking them to do?
- Do I have appropriate books available?
Recently a colleague said to me, "We have to divorce ourselves from last year." It's so true. I need to look with fresh eyes, and look hard, at where students really are. To be effective and help students take next steps, my instructional decisions should be based upon the information I have gathered. In these first weeks, I've collected information from reading and writing assessments. I've watched students read new text and familiar text. I've observed as they've selected books for independent reading time. As they've responded orally and in writing, I've noted strengths and confusions. Now it's time to use this information while it is fresh to plan next steps. These next steps need to be based upon where students are and not where they should be.