I appreciate the do-it-yourself ethos that Kate and Maggie Beattie Roberts spread in DIY Literacy. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to think of a better first step for teaching reading or writing moves than what they advise on page 31: "Try to perform the skill yourself, as an adult, for a few minutes... Step back. Study what you did. Name how you did what you did." I'm all for seeking that space as often as possible: hip deep in a creative mess, noticing what's working and what's not. (Pause for self-awareness: like right now, hashing out this reflection.)
While I'm confident that process will continue fueling my literacy growth, what about my students? Team Roberts puts that crux question this way: "Are the teaching tools I offer my kids really helping them to grow?" (2) And that's what got me thinking beyond DIY. The classroom I'm envisioning in 2016-17 can't stop with each learner doing it themselves; we need a collaborative spirit of doing it ourselves, or DIO. For starters, that means robust feedback loops, willing cooperation, real and virtual mentors, generous sharing, plus open eyes and ears that can blend criticism with empathy. That's a classroom culture coming into clearer focus for me. While I also know I bear professional responsibility for tracking students' growth, I'm aiming to have students increasingly articulate their progress (along with lingering areas of challenge) themselves. Those words can spring from internal reflections as well as audience observations, taken to heart.
The roles to which I aspire in this environment: noticer, listener, question asker, connector, inviter, catalyst. I will succeed when I equip students with tools that either open doors or remove obstacles along their paths to becoming more literate citizens. Those tools, I suspect, do not offer unbridled good. Even as Team Roberts argues, "The tools in our lives improve our lives. They save us energy, time, and struggle," (3) I know those savings are never guaranteed. Not every tool is right for everyone, so choose purposefully, embrace trial and error, and reflect often on what to champion versus what to discard. Those, too, are processes I can demonstrate with my students and capture in teaching charts, demonstration notebook entries, micro-progressions, and bookmarks.