We Are All Literacy Teachers

Day 13 of #AprilBlogAday asks "How is literacy critical to the advancement of society today?" Lately, I've been reflecting a lot on professional development while providing input on PD plans for next year, I keep going back to "What are we teaching?" In California, with the adoption of Common Core (CCSS), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and new English Language Development (ELD) Standards we have had a narrow focus on different buckets of standards as opposed to a broader emphasis on teaching and learning.  All too often our trainings focus on just one bucket. Does it really make sense for a teacher to get trained in CCSS and then NGSS, and the ELD with the hopes that at some point we step back and see the connections between the three? Similar to mixing paints, the tranformation occurs when we integrate these standards in our professional development offerings. One means of integration is a focus on literacy as well as technology. Each set of these standards have strong literacy and technology components. If we provide integrated professional development, then we aren't teaching CCSS or creating experts in NGSS or building capacity in ELD but rather doing all of the above in the name of literacy. Regardless of subject or grade level, we are all teachers of literacy and our professional development offerings need to better reflect that.

With so many initiatives being rolled out in a brief period of time, we have become lost in the details and lost sight of the big picture. The big picture is that literacy skills are absolutely essential to student growth and the advancement of society. Students who are equipped to efficiently locate print, digital, informational, and multimedia resources on a variety of topics, analyze them, and then critically evaluate them while creating a product that can communicate their understanding will have the literacy skills necessary to participate and thrive in a global society. Rather than professional development focusing on narrow knowledge or skill-based topical threads, there needs to be more integration and literacy can provide the rallying point for transformation to occur.