Changing Life Trajectories for Our Youngest Readers Through Guided Reading
The national statistics are discouraging: fewer than one in five children who are reading below grade level by 3rd grade go on to attend college. Local data tells a similar story. In Dallas County, only 30% of 3rd graders are reading at a level that indicates they are on track to be successful in college (Source: The Commit! Partnership). At Teaching Trust, we believe that a focus on early literacy is vital for expanding opportunities and improving outcomes for all students.
To improve the odds for students in Dallas-Fort Worth, the Teaching Trust Alumni Network offered a two-day “Guided Reading: Building Foundations in K-2 Literacy” training earlier this month, led by Teaching Trust Program Officer Lauren Frank. This training was designed to help campus teams set a strong foundation for Guided Reading instruction in order to accelerate students’ reading growth.
On the first day of training, campus teams learned the fundamentals of Guided Reading and practiced effective Guided Reading instruction. Day two involved intensive training for school leaders and coaches to understand and adopt systems and routines needed to effectively roll out Guided Reading on their campuses.
One participant reflected, “The training helped ground me in the importance of Guided Reading time. It is not just another block in the schedule or a box to check off, but very purposeful and important time for our scholars. We are going to use this training as a strong framework for all of our teachers to implement next year.”
By focusing on the importance of early literacy and concrete skills and strategies that can equip all students with the tools to become fluent readers, our leaders are re-writing the narrative of what is possible for Dallas County’s youngest students.
Alumni Network Facilitates Impactful School Visits for Campus Teams
If you want to learn to prepare a delicious meal, would you rather consult a recipe book, or spend the afternoon in the kitchen with a master chef walking you step-by-step through the cooking process? Visiting high-performing schools makes this kind of experiential learning possible for Teaching Trust program participants and alumni. Participants get to interact with high-performing school leaders – the “master chefs” of their schools – to learn actionable strategies and craft a vision of what is possible for students and teachers on their own campuses.
At our recent visit to KIPP SHARP Prep in Houston, Teaching Trust leaders observed and discussed best practices with educators at this top-performing campus that has averaged 94.3% proficient in both reading and math on the Texas STAAR assessment for the last four years.
Closer to home, our visit to Uplift Williams Middle School in Dallas spotlighted the work of School Director Jacob Stainbrook, a Teaching Trust Aspiring Leaders Program graduate who has led his campus to significant academic growth through a consistent focus on a few key priorities, including observation and feedback for teachers, student and staff culture, and student-centered instruction. In his first year as principal, Jacob led Williams to proficiency gains of 20% in math and 15% in reading on Texas’s end-of-year STAAR assessment.
These school visits were even more impactful because participants chose to attend with colleagues from their campuses. Experiencing the visit with team members enhanced their discussion about bringing best practices they observed back to their own campuses. At both KIPP SHARP and Williams, teams connected directly with school leaders about key priorities for both culture and instruction, sought feedback on potential action plans, and discussed strategies for implementation.
By observing strong principals who are getting results and action planning with peers, Teaching Trust alumni leaders are setting a strong foundation for the 2017-2018 school year.