Shift Happens – Looking for Solutions In the Face of Problems

RTI is placing more emphasis on the general education teacher.  Now more than ever we are being asked to stretch and work with other specialists.  Not everyone is open to doing the work it takes to be a reflective educator.  There are many problems that we face and sometimes it feels like we’re running low on solutions.  Tell us if this doesn’t sound familiar:



  • Writing Workshop: There isn’t enough time for deep meaningful lessons everything is rushed and if not careful can become superficial
  • The need for “support” takes away from independent work
  • Instructional styles differ and personal beliefs are not aligned
  • There isn’t  enough time to collaborate for thoughtful planning

So what are some potential solutions?  It’s hard to say because all the stakeholders have to be willing to shift in one way or another.  Perhaps there are smaller shifts we can make in scheduling, instructional style, and time management that can begin to chip away at this divide.  When people feel devalued, or attacked they shut down and dig in and won’t budge, and that doesn’t help at all especially our shared students.

Small Shift Solution:

  • There are two ENL cohorts  in third grade.  Jill has one of them.  Writing Workshop happens the last period of the day, and students from another classroom “push-in” to Jill’s room with the ENL teacher.  Let’s try to get in one day a week for an 20 extra minutes of writing instruction.   This involves asking the other classroom teacher to release two of his students earlier.  The ENL teacher can come into the workshop while it is already underway and go straight to small group – this will give student more opportunity to work independently and will afford more time for meaningful writing instruction.
  • Go back to instructional planning and scheduling time for independent work that is as sacred as small group styled “support”  Perhaps ENL teacher would consider conferring as a viable option to small group instruction a few days a week.
  • This is the hardest one to tackle; however, small shifts may be the solution.  For example,  a personal belief in fill in the blank writing – highly formulaic writing.   Use those “fill-ins” as potential tool for students to go to as sentence starters, labeling each part of the writing process – making it a more meaningful tool.  More importantly go back to best practices and reasons for instructional choices.  If both are sound options find a way to blend ideals – make room for common ground.
  • Making time with colleagues who are unwilling to plan with you is very difficult. Begin by showing kindness and try to take what is given and try to make it work. Making sure not to sacrifice one’s true beliefs along the way.

Basically it’s a delicate balance – literacy instruction is too meaningful to just give up on.   If these solutions don’t work try again to make it better.  We understand that not everyone comes to teaching in the same way – but we do have to work together and push each other’s thinking so that in the end children benefit.  We can all agree that this is the most important goal of all.

Rainbow Pic for Mary's Quote

14 thoughts on “Shift Happens – Looking for Solutions In the Face of Problems

  1. Your title caught my attention. If one thing that I have learned in all of my years in teaching is that I have to be a reflective and cooperative collaborator. It’s been wonderful for me this year because I work with highly respectful educators. Egos are left at the door and we all pitch in to do what is best for our learners.

  2. So many truths and if you could see me reading ..head nods. Finding a good balance that doesn’t loose kids or my own personal philosophy on good teaching.

  3. Like Terrie, your title caught my attention too. It reminded me of that documentary (Was it a documentary?) that came out a decade ago entitled “Did You Know? Shift Happens.”

    You have excellent ideas here. I look forward to sharing it.

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