Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

Sharing Perspectives: The Voice of Experience

Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

Sharing Perspectives: The Voice of Experience

Article excerpt

When we thought about books related to multiple perspectives and voice of experience for this issue we considered books of teachers and scholars who have made contributions to literacy over time, but we realized that such a focus is only a small aspect of the voice of experience. We wondered what voice of experience meant. Doesn't everyone in the community speak to one degree or another with a voice of experience? For example, the new, recently minted teacher in the staff study group of a school draws on his experience in conversations about instruction in reading as much as more experienced teachers. In thinking about the answer to the question we had to confess to a perspective of our own. The voice of experience is not an end point. It is something in process and includes the possibility that we are open to new ways of thinking, or open to new information that complements on what we already know. At the same time we wanted to bring multiple perspectives to concerns and interests in literacy and so included a book related to the thinking that goes into writing multiple genres that Gallagher (2011) argues in his book, Write Life This, and one genre, argument that Hillocks (2011) develops. The work of Calkins and her colleagues related to integrating the Common Core provides a perspective on the challenges teachers face. Beauchat (2012) and her colleagues offer a perspective on making reading aloud a rigorous part of a literacy program for the youngest readers..

Calkins, Lucy, Ehrenworth, Mary, &. Lehman, Christopher. (2012). Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 214 pp. ISBN 978-0-325-04355-5

Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman draw on the concept of voice of experience to guide teachers in their transition to teaching the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). They draw upon their experiences to communicate to teachers ways to accept and move forward with the CCSS to lift and accelerate student learning. With a focused and targeted audience of teachers, literacy coaches, and school leaders, this book explores the literacy standards of the CCSS in a way that allows readers to develop a deep understanding of the expectations in an attempt to empower teachers to use their own experience to implement the CCSS.

Curmudgeon by definition is a surly or miserly person. Synonyms include crank, grouch, and bear. The authors use this noun to help illuminate the choice teachers have in their approach to the Common Core. The authors set two initial pathways: to view the standards like a curmudgeon, or treat them as if they are gold and note that, historically, attitudes toward educational reform have influenced implementation. The authors stress the scope of the impact the CCSS will have on American education. "It is safe to say that across the entire history of American education, no single document will have played a more influential role over what is taught in our schools" (p. 1). The authors recognize that teachers' apprehension about adopting and integrating the Common Core is a normal reaction and explore questions and concerns that such apprehension inspires. However, experience tells teachers that a negative approach will not support the reform required to meet the expectations of the CCSS. The authors believe there is good in the CCSS and that "we need to embrace what is good about the Common Core State Standards and roll up our sleeves and work to make those standards into a force that lifts our teaching and our schools" (p. 8). If one is able to embrace what is good about the CCSS then the reform needed to meet the expectations is possible. Taking the stance of treating the CCSS as gold, the authors lead the reader through an exploration of the standards.

Pointing out that the CCSS establishes goals, the authors reiterate that the pathway to reach them is up to teachers and schools. They point out three areas of focus before beginning implementation. Teachers are urged to look at current curriculum strengths, and to set goals on how to improve them. …

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