Structured Literacy Requires Structured Planning

Busy Desk - Papers, Phone, Hands Writing

A quick peek at many a Facebook group just now will reveal that teachers are tired. Not just a little bit tired, but pooped, beat, spent and feeling plain old burnt out. Having just read that first sentence, you might then be wondering why I have decided to write about getting set up for the school year that hasn't even started yet. It's this simple. If you are anything like me, trying to rest and rejuvenate while the 'to do' list is swimming around in your head is a fool's errand. You lie down at night, feeling exhausted, only to wake several times during the night with ideas, solutions to challenges and plans coming to the surface, even if you didn't realise that you had been thinking about them.   Some people can just switch it all off and decide to put things aside until later, but not me. I need to 'get it all out' and onto paper so I can rest knowing the ideas are waiting for me when I am ready. If you are the same, then this week's post is for you! I'd like to help you to record all the things you need to get straight so that when school finishes for the Christmas break, you can truly rest and be present with your friends and families or simply get out into nature.

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To help you finish off 2022 and get ready for 2023, download the reflection and 2023 action plan below, fill it in as you read this post and then pop it away in a folder marked 'future me to work on'.

First things first, what has gone well for you this year?

  • What changes did you make to your practice in 2022?
  • What was the impact of that change?
  • What practices from 2022 will you keep in 2023?
  • What practices from 2022 will you stop in 2023?
  • What practices would you like to begin to implement in 2023 that you didn't get the chance to in 2022?
  • If you are moving grades or schools next year, which practices will you carry over to your new context?
  • What knowledge, skills, and resources do you need to do so? If you aren't confident in your knowledge and skills in this area, how will you gain the knowledge and skills you need?

Next, reflect on Your Teaching Across the Big 6

The reflection and action plan form then walks you through the Big 6 step by step, asking you to identify whether you have the knowledge, skills and resources needed to teach according to the suggestions. 

  1. Oral Language
  2. Phonological and Phonemic Awareness
  3. Phonics
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Fluency
  6. Comprehension


It's great to have an idea of what your priorities are, but it's also important to identify what professional learning and tools you need to implement structured literacy in the way you are hoping to. These are not usually things you decide on quickly, so giving some thought to how you can set yourself up for success is a good idea. Ask yourself the following questions: 

1) What kind of professional learning do I prefer? Do I want full day face to face training delivered in a block, or do I want online training drip fed over time? Do I want something live or pre-recorded? Do I like a time-crunch, or would I prefer longer access? 

2) What program or sequencing tools do I have available to me? Do I have resources that help me organise and teach content, or am I planning to put it all together myself? For the record, putting it all together yourself isn't as fun as it sounds! (If you don't have a program and are searching for something to make teaching easier, you might like to check out Reading Success in Action.)

3)  How will I resource text level reading for my students? (whether that be at decodable or rich text level)

4) What's my differentiation plan? How will I balance meeting students where they are up to with maximising instructional time? 

5) Who is my tribe? Who will be there for me as I make my way through the ups and downs of my literacy teaching? 

6) How will I structure my literacy block so that all of the components of the big 6 are covered each day? 

If you would like some help with that last question, you might like to join me for my FREE January program, '5 Simple Actions to Move the Needle on Student Results', delivered to your email inbox over 5 days. To find out more about that program and book your free place, click here

Knowing what you need and making a plan for future you to take care of is a great thing. It helps to reduce stress and acts as a kind of GPS. Once you are clear about what's important, you can go on your break knowing it's ok. Things are taken care of, and will be there waiting for you when you are ready. To download the free reflection and action plan, fill in your details and subscribe.


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