Commit to your own learning

Before you get swept away with all the things that you will be required to do at the beginning of the school year, why not make a personal commitment to your own learning and professional development?  It doesn’t have to an expensive or overwhelming commitment.  Katie and I work with so many teachers who want to remain learners.  We often remind each other, “No matter how busy I get, I’m going to try to find some time for me to grow as a literacy educator.” If you agree, read through the following suggestions we’ve collected from our fellow learners and choose one!

10 ways to grow as a teacher of reading and writing:

  1. Pick a literacy blog that you will commit to reading once a week.  We like these — (Choice Literacy, A Year of Reading, Two Writing Teachers, AM Literacy Learning Log) — but there are many to choose from.
  2. Go to one literacy conference this school year.  National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Reading Recovery (open to all teachers), and International Reading Association (IRA) conferences at the state, regional, or national level are not just for reading teachers.  They are for everyone!
  3. Have another teacher, someone you admire and trust, watch you teach. Invite that person to watch a guided reading lesson or a shared demonstration lesson, and then meet with that person for some critical feedback.
  4. Put your head together with a more knowledgeable teacher about a student who troubles you. Have that person read with your student, take some running records, and guide you as to what this child needs next as a reader.
  5. Start a teachers-as-readers group that meets before or after school once a month.  Even if only 4 or 5 teachers join, you can have a great discussion about the book you are reading. Several teacher books come with a study guide that provides questions, activities, or reflections for the chapters. (Our study guide for Catching Readers can be downloaded free at
  6. Encourage your grade-level team to save a little bit of time at meetings for discussion around specific kids who are struggling with reading or writing.  Take turns talking about a child, sharing writing samples or running records, and ask your teammates for input.
  7. Devote one lunchtime per week to eating alone and reading an article from a literacy journal.  If you don’t subscribe to any journals, your school professional library should have copies of this month’s Language Arts, Reading Teacher, or Educational Leadership.
  8. Ask your principal to provide coverage so that you can watch another teacher teach.  Or give up a planning time once a month to observe a teacher you think you can learn from.
  9. Participate in an online discussion on a literacy topic. Establishing a Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter can give you many different perspectives about education. Educators send out daily links to articles, as well as information on weekly online chats. Many authors have Twitter accounts that you can link to from their blogs. Find an educator you trust, and see who they follow. Some great Twitter people to follow are: DonalynBooks, FrankiSibberson, ReadingCountess,  chrislehmann, and web20classroom. Catching Readers is on Twitter too!
  10. Start a “Ten minute tidbits” forum in the morning before school once every two weeks.  Have different teachers share a quick literacy idea that helped improve the reading/writing abilities of their students.

If you have other ways that you like to learn, please feel free to add them. Enjoy growing as a teacher of literacy this school year!

Katie and Pat

1 Comment

  1. This is so timely. I am doing an inquiry project with my state’s National Writing Project site and am thinking about how teachers keep learning. We set goals for improving student achievement but there needs to be a time for teachers to reflect on their plans and instruction and learn from what they do to help students become readers and responders to text. You have given me a great start for my inquiry.

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