Throughout college and in the first years of my career, I learned the importance of literacy and how it plays out in our every day lives. While I have understood the importance of exposing children to literacy early in life and working continuously to deepen that understanding, I never understood the implications of the opposite, until this past week.
As always, I was browsing different websites about interesting things going on in the world today. A couple of posts intrigued me so I read them and then read the comments from different people below the article. One article in particular had an incredible amount of comments that did not have punctuation, capitalization, correct spelling, or really any grammar whatsoever. Now, I will be the first person to tell you that grammar is not my strong point, however, I was mortified by the idea that people were not even re-reading their writing before the posted. Surely they would have caught some of their mistakes if they had. I couldn’t believe it because I know how much I harp on it in my fourth grade classroom. The comments that I read did not have the conventions or content of a lot of blog posts that my fourth graders post, and these people were adults.
Now, this is not a judgment on these people because my first thought was that somewhere along the way, the system failed them. Teachers, parents, administrators, mentors, peers, etc. did not do enough to ensure that they were educated adults who could write a sentence using a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end. They were not exposed to a variety of literacy practices, and they were not pushed to think critically about these experiences. It made me realize how critical our literacy work is every day in the classroom. It made me realize that it is my job every single day to expose my students to new texts, to challenge them to talk and analyze that new text, and to orally be able to defend their opinions in an appropriate way. It also made me realize that I can’t allow a child to fall through the cracks because if I do, that child will continue to fall further and further behind, and may never catch up.
Finally, this break through was also a positive nod of accomplishment. I was able to see how much my students have learned already this year and how much they will learn before the end of the year. Even though I may harp on the specifics, I should celebrate their accomplishments too. While not everything that we do is perfect, they are learning! I also feel that I am doing what I need to for them and their futures. From the variety of literature and the depth of activities we do with these pieces, I feel confident that my students will leave my classroom as prepared twenty-first century learners.
Has anyone else had experiences like this? How has it changed your teaching practice? I can tell you that tomorrow, when I track back in, I will have a whole new outlook on the experience of education.