p. 76 “Think About This” from Bean, R.M. (2009). The Reading Specialist: Leadership for the Classroom, School, and Community. Guilford Press.
“How comfortable would you be in your leadership role in the situation with experienced teachers whose task is to select new materials? What difficulties do you foresee in working with this group? What essential skills would you need for working with the third-grade teacher who is seeking information about teaching comprehension?”
- I would be moderately comfortable working with an experienced, opinionated teacher group who needed to choose new reading materials. It would be an opportunity to facilitate polite discussion between educators with great classroom expertise and very likely, a wealth of pertinent reading knowledge. It would be important for me to set and keep a respectful, positive, and polite focus on the task at hand, and not allow the more dominant personalities to direct the agenda. At times, it could be necessary to redirect the conversation to the task: To select the best possible new reading materials for our particular needs. At other times, I may need to make sure that a quiet teacher’s views were expressed by calling on them to share. There may be difficulty if the group arrived with a desire to vent unrelated frustrations or to go off task, and it would be essential that I communicate the organization of the discussion from the beginning, so everyone could plan break times for side discussions. I think my role ultimately would be to model a dogged concentration on obtaining the best possible reading materials for our specific needs, and so respectful redirection to what those needs actually are would be important. Modeling and reinforcing polite listening and time sharing would be important too. I find that adult learners are not always patient listeners, and yet the best ideas often need time to bubble up. So, I would ask a lot of questions and follow-up questions, with wait time, as all the teachers would deserve to be given the opportunity to evaluate and express opinions about the materials at hand. Gently, I would continue to press for evidence so the teachers would remember to support their opinions with best practices in reading research. If that was missing from the discussion, then I would quietly share it. As the group worked toward a consensus, I would model respect for all ideas shared and keep the focus on what would be best for our current student reading needs.
- The essential skills needed for working with a third-grade teacher who seeks information about teaching comprehension would be very different from the scenario above. Since this teacher is actively asking for help, and it’s a one-on-one discussion, then I could simply listen carefully and respectfully to her concerns, evaluate the needs of her class, and advise her with research-based strategies to improve her comprehension instruction. This teacher has already shown an openness to change and an eagerness for coaching. I would probably want to observe a few lessons and hear her concerns completely before relaying any possible modifications to instruction. It would also be important to follow up with this teacher and make sure that we are both satisfied with the effect of any changes. Of course, further tweaks could be implemented if needed. Overall, this sounds easier to me than working with the group whose opinions initially differ.
Bean, R. M. (2009). The Reading Specialist: Leadership for the Classroom, School, and Community. Guilford Press.