We can help define our roles as literacy tutors by setting goals. Blachowicz* says goal setting can be based on four guiding questions:
1. What outcomes do you want to focus on?
2. What is your role in achieving those outcomes?
3. What knowledge is essential to perform your coaching role?
4. Given this essential knowledge, which instructional, professional development, and infrastructure practices will you support?
“The students and their performance are always the focus, because everyone, coaches and teachers alike, have the common desire to make their students the best readers that they can be.” (Blachowicz)
Handy tips for goal-achievement*
– Write down what you want to do and what you think you need to do to get there. It really doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the learning might be. Keep it close to remind yourself of your goal.
– Find a friend. Find a friend, sibling, tutor, someone who will ask how you are going. You need other people to help keep you on track and encourage you with your goal.
– Be courageous. Give it a go! Step out of your comfort zone. When you push yourself and ‘get uncomfortable’, we grow.
– Take it one step at a time. Every new day is a another chance to get it right. Take the opportunity of a new day, new year. Keep going forward and persist.
Practise! Experts are only experts because they have put in the work, repeating the same work or technique over and over again, maybe thousands of times, striving to do it better each time.
*The principal of my children’s school recently shared these tips at a school assembly
SMART goals – conceived by a business psychologist named George Doran. SMART is an acronym, standing for goals that are:
S – Specific. Set goals with clear outcomes. No loose language like “Write story for publication”
M – Measurable. Set concrete goals and keep track of them! Eg: “Write 2,000 word story for publication”
A – Achievable. Set realistic goals that are reasonable. If you fail to meet it, you’ll feel bad about yourself.
R – Relevant. Set goals that matter to you, that will have a positive effect in your life.
T – Time-bound. Give yourself a deadline to create a sense of urgency and keep you focused on the task at hand. Ex: “Write 2,000 words ready for publication by August 31”
Giving a speech may be one goal you have in mind? Some quick tips for speech-giving are:
– Write down what you want to say, then shape, chop and read it out loud. 100 words = 1 minute.
– First up, the introduction. Get them to notice you! Pull them in with something fun or visual.
– Speech focus or body – expand on the concept and give more detail. 1-2 points for 3 minute speech/2 – 3 points for 5 minute speech. (remember, 100 words = 1 minute)
– Conclusion. Come back to the beginning, put something into their head, pull them in again, remind them of the best fact
– Support material – make it sing!
Key features of successful groups:
· everyone gets a chance to speak
· no one is criticised for what she/he says
· everyone listens to what is being said
· everyone understands the goals of the group
· people work cooperatively to reach the group goals
· information relevant to the work of the team is shared with other team members
· whenever there is any conflict, it is talked about
· the group has its own rules for dealing with situations but these are not rigidly applied
decisions are made by the group so that even though all members don’t get everything that they want they are still happy to agree with the final decision. This is called making decisions by consensus.
Tips to help develop your teamwork skills:
- Know that effective teamwork skills are important work skills.
- Pay attention to how you behave in your workgroup, and work consciously to improve problem areas, or stop destructive behaviours.
- Observe how other workgroup members behave.
- Provide feedback to other members where necessary.
- Practise the skills at which you are weakest, or which you do not have.
- Ask other members for specific feedback about your team performance.
- Take the time to get to know the members of your workgroup.
- Practise your communication skills.
- Be prepared to take responsibility for your work, and your actions.
- Develop a clear understanding of your role within the workgroup and what is expected of you.
- Be supportive of other group members, and be prepared to work cooperatively to achieve workgroup goals.
- Encourage these positive group behaviours in other members.
Aggression – criticising and blaming others, showing hostility against the workgroup or an individual, insulting others.
Blocking – interfering with workgroup progress by side-tracking away from important issues, talking about unrelated personal experiences, arguing too much on one point, rejecting ideas without consideration.
Self-confessing – expressing personal feelings or points of view which are not relevant or appropriate to the group.
Competing – trying to be the one who talks the most, has the most ideas without consideration for the ideas of the other members.
Seeking sympathy – trying to get other group members to be sympathetic to and supportive of ideas, even if the ideas are not in the best interests of the group.
Special pleading – introducing suggestions or ideas related to personal beliefs or pet concerns, lobbying.
Hindering/horsing around – clowning, joking, mimicking, disrupting the work of the group.
The process recommended is that you are to imagine that you have six different coloured hats that you can put on and take off whenever you want to think in a different way.
The colour of the hat is related to its function.
White Hat – White is neutral and objective. The white hat is concerned with objective facts and figures.
Red Hat – Red suggests anger (seeing red), rage and emotions. The red hat gives the emotional view.
Black Hat – Black is gloomy and negative. The black hat covers the negative aspects- why it cannot be done.
Yellow Hat – Yellow is sunny and positive. The yellow hat is optimistic and covers hope and positive thinking.
Green Hat – Green is grass, vegetation and abundant fertile growth. The green hat indicates creativity and new ideas.
Blue Hat – Blue is cool, and it is also the colour of the sky which is above everything else. The blue hat is concerned with control and the organisation of the thinking process.
In practice, the hats are always referred to by their colour and never by their function. There is a good reason for this. The neutrality of the colours allows the hats to be used without embarrassment. If you ask someone to give their emotional reaction to something, you are unlikely to get an honest answer because people think that it is wrong to be emotional. The term red hat is neutral. You can ask someone to ‘take off their black hat for a moment’ more easily than you can ask that person to stop being so negative. Thinking becomes a game with defined rules rather than a matter of exhortation and condemnation.
The hats are referred to directly:
· ‘I want you to take off your black hat.’
· ‘For a few moments let us all put on our red thinking hats.’
· ‘That’s fine for yellow hat thinking. Now let’s have the white hat.’
When you are dealing with people who have not read this book and who are unaware of the symbolism of the six thinking hats, the explanation attached to each colour can quickly give the flavour of each hat. The more widespread the understanding and practice of using this technique is, the more efficient it will be in use. Eventually, you should be able to sit down at the discussion table and switch in and out of ‘hats’ with ease.
Problem Solving steps: Define the problem – Look at possible causes – formulate alternative solutions – decide on the best options – implement the best solution – Evaluate and review
Dealing with conflict
Stage 1 – Discomfort when you feel uncomfortable about a situation
Stage 2 – Incident when words are exchanged.
Stage 3 – Misunderstanding when the problem tends to play on your mind and motives are often confused for facts.
Stage 4 – Crisis when behaviour is affected and normal functioning is difficult
An effective-teacher’s repertoire
A teacher needs motivating skills, questioning skills, supporting skills (verbal praise being the most common), information-giving skills(including feedback) and listening skills (primarily non-verbal like eye contact and posture).
Techniques for better listening include: Listening, ignore distractions, summarise, tame emotions, eliminate hasty judgements, never interrupt, inspire openness, need to listen and generate conclusions. (SCRC 2012, ‘Develop Tutor Strategies in Listening and Speaking’ p4).
Question styles need to be wide ranging and include low-order convergent style (recall and memorisation with answers as yes/no or quotes), high-order convergent style (beyond recall, describe), low order divergent style (eg: identify reasons) and high order divergent style (make predictions, solve lifelike problems, such as asking what their favourite book is and why) (Wilen et al. 2000, p.181)
Effective feedback contains three components. These are a definition of correctness or standard of performance to be met, evidence indicating whether the standard was or was not achieved and corrective procedures as to what must be re-learned and how (Wilen et al. 2000, p.45)
Generating an academic climate promotes learning “Be task orientated and time aware, and to do this there are four key points to keep in mind. keep student on task and involved with challenging activity, give limited and purposeful homework and monitor progress for student success” (Wilen et al. 2000, p.29)
It is important to provide opportunities for success. “structure success experiences so that all students feel positive about themselves as learners” “Students need opportunities to succeed frequently on learning tasks” (Wilen et al. 2000, p.43)
Applegate, Applegate & Turner (2010, p 211) suggest teachers develop flexible reading programs that encourage the success of struggling readers and suit the needs of individual students.
Embark on the use of the Language Experience Approach, using topics of great interest to the students and enabling them to experience engaged learning, they suggest, because the ideas and words included in the experience become the vehicle through which skills can be developed.
“The job of the literacy leader is to help students achieve a healthy balance whereby they use all of their skills to arrive at the ultimate goal: becoming skilled and motivated readers who read thoughtfully and purposefully for an array of purposes.”
So, the primary task of literacy leaders is to help all of their colleagues keep their eyes on the prize and develop the flexibility they need to adjust their programs to achieve a solid match with all students. (Applegate , Applegate & Turner 2010, p.212)
“When thinking about language, remember that it is living, not dead. It continues to develop and change. To use English well, you need to be aware of how it is used in different situations and for different purposes.” (Seely, 1998, p.157)