Reading Workshop Routines and Structures

Sunday, August 30, 2015

     The first week of school has finished, and the teachers at Hiawatha spent it getting to know their kids, building classroom community and positive climate, and adjusting back to the routines and schedules of school.  It was a great success.  If you would like to take a tour of our first week, via Twitter and Storify, here you go:

     The second week, though, can bring some pressure.  It could even make you want to scream a little.

     Curriculum starts creeping in rather rapidly, and for our staff that means they are ready to start getting some feedback based on the curriculum.  BUT, let's start as a reasonable manner.  If we build reading workshop well at the beginning of the year, then learning can begin and continue to take off all year long.  That's why I like to focus my first feedback of the year on the basic routines and structures needed for a successful workshop model to occur.  It helps us know if we are on the right track, and it gets me in the classrooms to offer support and answer questions as they come up.

     When I come into a classroom for brief visits at the beginning of the year, I look for the things listed above.  Do I expect to see them ALL in place during the visit?  Of course not!  But, at least one of those things is usually either being actively taught, or evidence of it is seen in student behaviors or on the walls.  So, I simply circle the things I see and then write notes about what I notice or observe in that visit.  No judgements.  No evaluation.  I just let the teacher know that I can see that they are building workshop routines and structures in their classroom.  And, in the process, I get to see the students.

     Why did I choose to include those things in my list above?  Honestly, they just seem to be some of the lessons or structures that once you have in place, you can focus on content and the CCSS in your instruction.  If you don't have things like a meeting place, or a time for mini lessons, or partner routines, or anchor charts, etc. you will have a much harder time once you eventually start trying to cover the standards.  Also, if your students don't have stamina or are not engaged when they are reading, there will be management problems once small group instruction starts.  We are not planning for small groups or CCSS lessons now, but they will be much easier down the road if the workshop routines and structures are established in the first 6 weeks of school.

     On the post its on the right, I like to give compliments for things that are going well, and considerations for things that I have questions about, or perhaps things that I didn't actually see but might be in place.   Considerations are just meant to help the teacher reflect on the routines and structures they have established in their room.  They often just help us have a conversation about the workshop after the lesson has occurred, or jump start another routine or structure.

     I walk into classrooms with a growth mindset mentality.  I am looking to give high fives through my notes, and validate the hard work that has already been put in place.  I know that we all want to make sure we are headed in the right direction.  I am lucky to be a person who tells our staff that they are on the right path, and help them continue down it as well.  

     I am eager to get into the classrooms and start supporting the teachers by talking to the students and doing a little kid watching myself.  Here we go!

(Thanks, Bitmoji, for the Little Leah's in this post.)



  1. Great, positive message Leah. We are so fortunate to have you, your leadership, guidance and mentoring at Hiawatha. Thank you!

  2. Leah, I love the form and your bitmojis! Thank you for sharing with all of us! :-)