ELA - A Year in Review “Reflections of a Newbie”  

ELA - A Year in Review “Reflections of a Newbie”

As I reflect back on my first year as a Teaching and Learning Coordinator here at ESU 10, it’s incredible to recognize what the entire T & L Department has been able to achieve! I am especially proud of the work that our ELA team has done, and wanted to take a few minutes to give you a “Year in Review.” I have shared below some of the professional learning opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to support. And as a former elementary teacher, I have assembled my thoughts in the form of an acronym using the word LITERACY.

L is for LETRS  LETRS itself is an acronym that stands for “Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling.” This is research-based professional learning for educators that increases their knowledge around how students learn to read, and can be embedded in any core reading program. ESU 10 has generously made the investment to train Dallas Lewandowski and myself as facilitators. This financial investment has allowed districts to save thousands of dollars, but also provides them (especially our smaller districts) with learning opportunities they might not otherwise have been provided. The best outcome, though, is that our students will be receiving instruction equipped by teachers who have the knowledge and skills to support ALL learners. Between Dallas and myself, we are supporting 8 Cohorts, which is approximately 300 teachers receiving this instructional opportunity.

I is for INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES CADRE This Cadre is a “Come Full Circle” moment for me. Years ago, I visited with Susan Evans about the need for a group of Coaches and/or Title I teachers that could collaborate and share resources. I joined as a member of the group and now several years later, I am back planning the meetings! This year, we had a group of about 10 educators in our group, with plans to expand a bit next year. I led a book study using “The Knowledge Gap” by Natalie Wexler, and cadre members were exposed to the DISC Assessment, Math and Literacy updates by myself and Hillary Bentley, and deep data discussions and sharing of resources and schedules. The exciting piece is that other ESUs have reached out to model our structure.

T is for TITLE I FALL MEETING I met with Title I educators in the fall and presented on a text called, “Literacy Reframed: How a Focus on Decoding, Vocabulary, and Background Knowledge Improves Reading Comprehension” to a group of about 30 educators. Many of these folks serve dual roles, and have also been a part of the ICC. At the Spring Title meeting, I discussed some of the upcoming professional learning opportunities with an ELA focus, as well as sharing some of my favorite ELA resources.

E is for ELA STANDARDS UNPACKING I was fortunate to be on a writing team for the new 2021 ELA Standards with NDE and educators across the state. Sarah Essay, Dallas Lewandowski, and myself provided professional learning on exploring the standards, navigating the instructional shifts, and supporting implementation of the new standards. We will continue to support this work throughout the summer as well.

R is for REVAMP OF ALP (ACADEMIC LITERACY PROJECT) ALP 2.0 - I was able to participate with Sarah, Denise, and Jeff Janda on the revamping of the Academic Literacy Project materials. Components of this 3 day series include strategies for engagement, collective efficacy, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. This update has a strong ELA emphasis focusing on theoretical models including Scarborough’s Rope and The Simple View of Reading. I also had the opportunity to participate in ALP Learning Walks. I truly enjoy getting any opportunity to be back in the classroom watching teachers teaching literacy!

A is for ACCESS TO HQIM There is a strong urgency right now supporting our districts in selecting High Quality Instructional Materials. 50-60% of our districts are wanting to adopt new core curriculum materials, and many of our districts have accessed their ESSER III funds for this. We have constructed a strong process for guiding them through including: helping them to create a vision for reading instruction across their entire district (what they ALL feel ELA instruction should look like), helping them utilize a solid process for finding “best fit,” and continuing to support districts in their implementation process.

C is for CADRE WORK THROUGH NEBRASKA LITERACY CADRE Our entire ELA team plays an active role in the Nebraska Literacy Cadre. I have been fortunate to support the restructuring of our current format, to help make our Cadre run more efficiently, while also supporting equitable practices and sharing of resources statewide in partnership with NDE and other agencies. I plan to continue my work, while representing ESU 10 in a leadership role during the 2022-2023 school year as a Co-Lead for the Cadre.

Y is for ”YOU”NITY I think it’s extremely important to say THANK YOU to all of you for placing such a high emphasis on ELA instruction for our PreK-12 districts. It is very rare to find an ESU across our state that has THREE coordinators that specialize in literacy. I feel blessed to be part of a strong triad here at ESU 10. Dallas Lewandowski brings a strong early literacy foundation to the team, Sarah Essay has the secondary expertise that is so critical, and I fit right in between the two of them with both elementary teaching and instructional coaching and middle school/ secondary intervention experience. We have continued to focus on team building and collaboration and I am very excited to watch our team continue to grow.

Along with all of these literacy opportunities, I have also been able to play an active role in the New Teacher Academy, served as a coach for the Leadership Network, supported the work and development of the content for the Mental Health Summit this summer, and served on the interview team for the T & L Department. I have had a fabulous mentor in Kelly Clapp and Denise could not be a better director. I am truly honored to represent ESU 10 and be a part of such a collaborative team. I continue to have many opportunities for my own personal and professional growth, and I want to close by again saying thank you to Dr. Wheelock and the ESU 10 Board of Directors for your continued support and dedication to ESU 10 and the services we provide.

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