The Needs of the Kids

Sunday, April 19, 2015

     I was at a workshop with past week about biliteracy and dual language classrooms, and the conversation of perspective (or mindset) came up.  The presenter, Karen Beeman, had us do two powerful things.  First, she had us think about what our definition of literacy is.  Then, she had us consider whether or not you actually need to be bilingual to support a multilingual perspective.  (Thanks, +Vianney Sanchez, for the post it image.)

     I really could write a blog post about both of these things, but that is for another day.

     What struck me about the answer to those two questions is how similar they really are to the reasons we have other initiatives or programs in place for D100.  It always seems like we have something new going on in D100.  Over my 16 years, we have had some major shifts...

Bilingual Program

Full Inclusion


1:1 technology

RTI Model

Workshop Model and Balanced Literacy

Common Core Implementation

Standards Based Learning

Dual Literacy (coming soon!)

     Beeman's question was, "How do we create a culture where the mindset is positive for a multilingual program?"  How can we get everyone involved to see the value of reading and writing in two languages?

     The answer, for all those programs listed above, is the same.  

     Look at the needs of the kids.

     I have been very lucky to have been a part of many of those programs from the start.  To be honest, the biggest challenge with some of them had been my own time to adjust.  We, as teachers, come with our own strengths and weaknesses, and our own teaching styles.  What we feel comfortable doing is not always what the kids need.  Sometimes, our programs need to change to fit the needs of the kids in front of us.  D100 seems to recognize that.

     I am proud of the teachers in our district, because they are willing to take on challenges and learn new things, just so the children that we teach will be successful beyond our classrooms.  We put things in place that might not show immediate gains in the year we have them, but we hope will help them in the years after they walk out our doors.  We are creating children whose dreams can come true.

     What makes me even prouder, though, is our staff's ability to look at all of those programs and decide what the students in their classroom need the most.  None of those things are one size fits all, and they do not stand alone.   Pieces of them can be woven into pieces of another, and it is our job to see what will make the most difference for the kids in our class.  

     +Karen Marino is leading a book talk about Standards Based Grading at Hiawatha.  Our teachers just asked themselves what they wanted for the students at Hiawatha and put their responses on an anonymous Padlet wall.  One of the teachers wrote this:

     No matter if they are speaking English or Spanish.  No matter the instructional method or group size.  No matter the use of paper or tech.  It's what the KIDS needs.  We make decisions that make the most impact that we can.  And the teachers in D100 are making that happen, every single day.  

     So think about these questions...

     What do you believe for your students?  

     How are you going to make that happen?

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