Updated on April 3, 2017
Balancing Act (The Struggle is Real)
I’ve got 21 students all at VERY different reading levels, the majority of which are below. I must teach my grade level standards while also catching them up and meeting all of their literacy needs (and do all this with limited time during reading). How do I manage it all? How do I balance the reading period to get all of it in with maximum effectiveness?!?
Anyone else dealing with this struggle? Do you have an answer to balancing it all?
I’m going to be figuring it out in real time this year. I’m a reading intervention specialist. When the students get into the small group at the kidney table with me, I know exactly what to do to unlock literacy for them and finally get them reading (all wisdom I’ll be sharing on this site in the future). That’s the easy part for me, because my teaching experience was concentrated in that area. As a reading group teacher, I could go into a class, pull my groups, and then move on to the next class. I didn’t have to do what the classroom teacher does which is manage ALL the groups simultaneously, choosing differentiated activities appropriate for each group while also controlling the behaviors and noise level within the room.
Here are some of the problems I’m currently trying to solve in my Readers Workshop:
- Where do I fit the grade level lessons and activities in my plans?
- How do I provide support to those grade level activities so even my lowest readers can be successful?
- Should I give a grade level specific phonics mini-lesson, even when it’s beyond 75% of my students’ instructional levels? If not, then how do I choose the best mini-lesson that will be relevant to the various differentiated tasks the students will do in their groups?
- What’s the best way to manage the noise level and behaviors of the room during groups/center time?
- How do I train the students to stop interrupting my group?
- What are some of the best literacy activities for my students at each of their reading development stages? What should my emergent students be doing? What should my early readers work on? What work can I give my on-level students that they could do independently? How do I best challenge my advanced readers? (Keep in mind, I have VERY VERY VERY limited printing and copying resources at my school. So most of these activities must be paper-free. That resource issue is contributing to the struggle)
- What scope and sequence do I set up for all my groups so that they can all catch up and be on-grade level readers by the end of the year? How do I accomplish that huge task when I can only meet with them 2-3 times per week? (That’s why the activities I choose above must be of the highest quality. Students must be learning and advancing in reading, even when they’re not at the kidney table with me. Centers can’t just be “busy work”.)
- How I type all of this into a managed plan so that my grade level can understand and use these resources with their struggling students as well?
The answers to all these questions will be future blog posts topics. You’ll be learning with me this year as I apply all of my reading development knowledge to the unique challenges that classroom teachers face. The struggle is real, y’all.
Do you share this same struggle? Have you figured out how to balance it all? Share your concerns as well as success tips and strategies below in the comments. I’d love to hear from other reading teachers in the same boat.