professornana (professornana) wrote,

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In books we trust

I was drawn to this post by the title: Want Great Literacy Instruction? Trust the Teacher: Citing research by Hoffman and Pearson, the author, Russ Walsh, notes that for a long time, programs have taken center stage in education. Programs diminish if not entirely eliminate teacher autonomy. Of course, most of these one-size-fits-all programs fail to produce the promised results (see the latest conclusions on RtI, for example).

Part of an ancillary problem I am seeing lately is that, due to the constraints of curriculum dictated by those often outside of the classroom, teachers are graduating from schools of education without the same knowledge I did back in the stone age (1976). Our own state legislature ruled years ago that education colleges had to cut the number of hours teacher candidates took before graduation. At our institution, the required courses in literature for children (and tweens and teens) were the victims.

To be sure, there are times in the other education courses where teachers include contemporary literature. However, compare a semester long course in children's lit, 15 weeks to read and discuss books, to learn how to evaluate books, to explore using books with readers to a short mention in a course whose topics include much more than a complete focus on literature. As someone who has dedicated her life to this field of contemporary literature, I worry about the ramifications for folks who graduate without sufficient background.

As summer approaches, I am busily preparing materials for PD. Much of the PD centers on, you guessed it, contemporary literature. I will spend time this summer talking about new books. I will also be talking about the "classics" of the field. And I will be talking about how to evaluate the books, how to include them within the classroom, and how to motivate kids to read. In some cases, my colleagues and I will spend days in the same district providing what is, in essence, an institute on literature, trying to condense into days the content of our literature courses.

I love doing this PD. I will talk about books and reading at the drop of a hat. But part of me worries about the folks who will not get the PD they need. And I worry about the students of these folks, too. Thankfully, there are all manner of places for them to get the information they need: Twitter, Facebook, listservs, webinars, online courses, etc. Karin Perry and I have started our own You Tube Channel: Professors Providing Professional Development, for this reason as well:

I hope that this is a summer of learning and growth for all of you. In addition to teaching 4 courses over the 10 weeks of summer and conducting workshops and seminars, I am taking a course fro my colleague Hannah Gerber on emplaced cartography. I truly do believe something one of my principals told me, the day we stop learning, we stop living. So, here's to living and learning this summer.

Sign up for #bookaday! Tune in to the channel as Karin and I talk about literature. Join a listserv. Let's live and learn.
Tags: learning, literature
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