Handbook of Instructional Practices for Literacy Teacher-Educators: Examples and Reflections from the Teaching Lives of Literacy Scholars

By Joyce E. Many | Go to book overview

37—
Trends and Issues in Literacy:
A Focus on Balanced Instruction
Joyce E. Many
Georgia State University

I recognize that change is difficult and risky for most of us. Whatever we do for the first time, whether it is small-group guided reading, shared writing, integrating spelling, or holistic evaluation, we are bound to bungle it at the start. This is natural behavior for all new, comprehensive processes, and procedures, and we need to be forgiving and patient with ourselves. The main thing is to begin, to give it a try.

—Routman ( 1991, p. 4 )

A number of years ago, a teacher in one of my graduate classes brought in this quote to share. Since that time it has laced my speech and my teaching. Routman's words remain taped to my office door and the theme “be forgiving and be patient with yourself” weave in and out of my own self-talk and my words of support to other teachers. In the course I describe in this chapter, the teachers and I involved in the class were risk takers. Most of us were undertaking projects which were new, challenging, demanding, and exciting. The process was both exhilarating, stressful, and rewarding. We did bungle it at times, and we drew on each others' support and tried to be gentle with ourselves. But, overwhelmingly, we were glad we gave it a try.

At Georgia State University, we have a large selection of graduate literacy courses for masters, educational specialists, and doctoral level students. We have regularly scheduled courses related to literacy theories, research in various literacy fields, and pedagogy related to reading, writing, language arts, or literature. In addition, we also have a trends and issues course that can be used by faculty to focus on a specific topic or area of interest. We rotate this course around so that each of us has opportunity to teach a class relating to our particular area of expertise or to what we consider to be a burning issue.

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