“The role CRLP has played in my career continues to evolve. I think that’s why I love it so much. It keeps me developing as an educator. “
Kathrina has been serving historically marginalized students for eighteen years. She has taught third through sixth grades and as she says, “Reading is my favorite thing.” Kathrina’s favorite part of the day, no matter the grade, is read aloud time. “It’s a time of day when every student is engaged and all want to gather around the teacher. During read aloud time I see how excited the kids get when skilled authors end a chapter. Anticipating the next page, the best sound is an excited, No! Don’t stop reading! ” As a teacher, Kathrina thrives on these joyful outbursts from her students; actively listening to the story, completely enthralled with words.
The California Reading and Literature Project (CRLP) has helped her with two key components of skilled reading instruction — motivation and engagement. Kathrina says that in the CRLP the motivation piece is the priority. “I think that’s often overlooked, but with CRLP it’s front and center. I’m always backwards planning around how we can get students through a text and stay motivated and engaged”.
Results for Reading Comprehension (RRC), a signature program that the CRLP offers to help teachers scaffold complex text, does just that. Incidentally, that was Kathrina’s hook for becoming a part of the California Reading and Literature Project many years ago. “RRC is about challenging teachers and at the same time encouraging teachers’ autonomy and creativity. In the Project I feel there are lots of other teachers who are just like me, who want this autonomy and opportunity to be creative when teaching reading. When I’m with CRLP Teacher Leaders I’m next to people as engaged in reading and literature instruction as I am! They’re excited to share the love of reading with their students, like me! If you’re excited about something, chances are your students are going to be excited, too, whatever the topic is.”
The purpose of the RRC Before Reading Routine is intended to provide students with the appropriate amount of pre-teaching based on a teacher’s initial analysis of the text and to activate, assess, and develop students’ background knowledge. As Kathrina explains, “I have to know my students, know their interests, and know their language demands so I can pull vocabulary and content from the text to pre-teach as part of a critical examination of the texts I choose. And I need to know how to present this Before Reading information so students want to figure out what happens and to reorganize the text. It makes you become a more intentional and purposeful teacher.” Kathrina adds that if you can set your students up to feel they can be good at something, it does not matter if it is adding two-digit numbers, or reading a complex text:They are going to be motivated to do it if they know they can be good at it.
“Many of my students may not have the background knowledge about a topic we’re reading about, so there’s a lot of vocabulary and concept building needed. For this reason, RRC routines are a critical equity piece in ensuring all students will learn. . “RRC has taught me how to meet my students where they are and give them the scaffolds and support they need to access rigorous, complex text.” Kathrina says that RRC supports her learning needs as a teacher because it makes teaching reading comprehension a rewarding and fun challenge.. Observing her students become hooked on a text is incredibly motivating for Kathrina. “I’ve learned the importance of backwards planning and anchoring my instruction around what I want my students to walk away with from the text.”
Just as important, Kathrina adds that CRLP teacher leaders stay sensitive and supportive with diversity and inclusion and have introduced her to many diverse texts for reading instruction. She says, “The CRLP is not afraid to tackle topics, through books, that we’re not sure if we’re talking about correctly yet. Terms are changing all the time. The CRLP navigates that for me and gives me the courage to “go there”, too. They’ve opened my eyes to so many books that represent so many different populations, all of which my students will either see themselves in or be able to see others through.”
Click here to learn more about the Results for Reading Comprehension (RRC) instructional strategies and routines Kathrina mentioned in her vignette. Curious how to be in community with Kathrina and other like-minded CRLP Teacher Leaders? Click here to find out more.
Keywords: teachers as learners, teachers as leaders, reading comprehension instruction, equity, literacy, multilingual learners, leadership, community, backward planning