Friday, February 12, 2016

Maybe It's Not About Doing MORE

Recently our team sat looking at the information we had collected about our readers.  We had our most recent benchmark assessment information and anecdotal notes from our classrooms.  As we reflected on student progress, we didn't feel we were seeing the shifts we hoped to see.  It wasn't long until our conversation spun to ways we could do more.  

In the last month I have sat in meetings with other grade levels, other schools, our literacy team, and our response to intervention team.  In each of these instances the conversation seems to quickly spiral into ways we could do more.  Even looking at the assessment information and notes I've obtained from the students I support in reading intervention, I find myself looking for ways to do more.  

The truth is, however, we're already doing more.  Educators have many students that have particular individual and small group plans.  There are plans for intervention that are progress monitored.  There are additional support staff that support some learners and programs purchased with the intention to support and remediate.  We pull learning apart from its larger concepts to its minute skills, drilling into what we think might be needed for these students.

Let's pause, for just a minute...

Let's breathe...

Let's leave the rushed frenzy of our data driven world...

Let's put standardized hurdles aside...

Let's not do more...

As I look at the information I have on my readers and consider the rushed pace of our learning, I realize I can't do more.  They can't do more.  I'm asking the wrong questions and seeking the wrong plans.  What I need to be thinking about is, what can I do better?  What are the essential instructional practices that will support my learners?  What really works?  How do I improve my language so that what I am doing has more power, but leaves them with more time to practice these very strategies? 

Experience has taught me that if I put first things first, the rest will fall into place.  So I'm changing my question to "What can I do better?".  As I reflect I am looking for those essential pieces that matter most, and working to do them well.  


  1. Beautiful reflection and question. Thank you.

  2. A friend sent me this reflection just at the right time of my growing frustration. Thank you it was just what I needed at this moment.

  3. Cathy, once again your brilliant words resonate with me ... and just what I needed to hear this week. This will be my focus right now. Thank you for always sharing your wise words and thoughts. m.

  4. I'm printing this out to share with the leadership team and parents at my school! Today! Thank you for these very important words.

  5. Thoughtful and wise Cathy. Thank you.

  6. Cathy, as always your words are so smart and timely. As we continue to add new things, jumping on every bandwagon that comes our way, this is a very important shift in questioning. Thank you for always thinking things through and so clearly expressing those thoughts in your writing.