Should I go rogue or follow my school's approach to literacy?
At one time or another, most teachers have gone rogue in their classrooms. We have been asked to do something that we don't want to do and thought, 'nope'. This doesn't impact things too badly when we've gone rogue about only 1 box of tissues from the office a time or not signing for that extra box of lead pencils, but it can have significant impacts when it comes to substantial areas of our teaching.
There are many reasons that teachers go rogue. They could be change weary, overloaded, don't feel that they should be 'told what to do' or there could be a mismatch between the philosophy of the teacher and what they are being asked to do.
As a leader, I was never very fond of people going rogue. I believed that it was my responsibility to ensure consistency and equity across all classrooms and a teacher deciding not to follow through on a whole school (or whole team) approach compromised student learning and wellbeing. I viewed that as long as what I was asking was not illegal, immoral or unethical, and was sensitive to the workload and needs of teachers, then I should be able to have an expectation that things would be followed through. I think that most of us would agree that all of that sounds reasonable.
But what happens when you are a classroom teacher being asked to do something that you view to be unethical? What if you are being asked to teach sight words as whole shapes or teach 3 cueing to beginning readers?
The answer might lie in finding ways to create a win-win between what you know about structured literacy and what your school is asking you to do. While it might feel like instructional gymnastics, can you tweak practices to make them more explicit? Can you open a dialogue with your leadership to discuss possibilities?
If you are a leader, you do need to lead. Nobody benefits from wishy washy decision making. However, it's also important to listen to your team's thoughts on meeting student needs and what they need in order to grow students' results. Classroom teachers are often knowledgeable about structured literacy and simple ways to achieve strong results.
Whichever perspective you are taking on this issue, open communication, open minds and respectful dialogue get you a lot further than closed doors and brick walls.
It can be really tempting to go rogue when your school approach doesn't align with the reading science, but you might just be closing off opportunities for influencing change that you would otherwise have.
Looking to support your team to grow in practice as you pursue school improvement in literacy outcomes? The Evergreen Teacher is here to help.