It seems like forever ago I was an instructional literacy coach. Working with teachers and administrators to support effective instruction to meet the needs of all of our students was a whirlwind of activity. I had the opportunity to attend extensive professional development through the lens of Reading First. Whether you are in agreement or not of this initiative, it did start many meaningful conversations. Most importantly the equity question became an important topic of conversation. The dialogue to engage each of our learners on the road to becoming engaged readers continues with Gravity Goldberg’s book Mindset & Moves.
I specifically used the word each learner versus every learner. Their meanings are similar but with clear differences. Each is referring to an individual, while every often refers to a group which you combine together as one. Goldberg is very passionate about empowering each of our students to “take charge” of their own learning. She clearly outlines how we can shift our classroom instruction towards reader’s ownership and it starts with instilling in each of our students the power of a growth mindset.
Goldberg combines the work of John Hattie and Carol Dweck early on in her book. “Hattie’s research of what actually impacts student achievement supports the need for reader ownership. This is not just about making students feel good; this is also a way to ensure real, visible learning is going on. In order for real learning to occur readers benefit from ownership that allows them to take risk, struggle, and continue to develop grit within a classroom that supports students without robbing them of opportunities to struggle” (p.26). Students are also taught about how to reflect on their own reading process, set goals, monitor their learning, accept and ask for feedback, and collaborate.
To get started Goldberg coaches the reader through a series of instructional shifts for the classroom teacher. It begins with a bit of curiosity and changing your lens from that of a deficit mindset to one of an admirer. Noticing what exactly our students are doing, rather than what they have not yet mastered. Become a “Miner” and get to know your students reading practices. Knowing what they are doing you can act as a “Mirror” to provide specific feedback to celebrate what they are already doing and guiding them to the next step. When a greater understanding is needed for your students you become their “Model” to show how and what strategies authentic readers use to construct meaning with text. Finally as a “Mentor” you act as a guide to support students using new strategies on their own and transferring these with other types of text.
Your classroom-learning environment is key to “creating space for ownership” (p. 59). The photo tour of reading classroom examples Goldberg uses in chapter four is the books version of Pinterest. Not only does this display authentic student ownership examples, but also it is what a literacy coach would do to get a teacher excited about teaching reading. Modeling by example and generating meaningful conversations with fresh new perspectives on “building students’ agency and independence” (bc).
Goldberg’s Mindset & Moves offers classroom teachers and literacy coaches a fresh perspective on teaching reading. The goal is not just to teach our students to be good readers, but how each of them can become owners of their own learning.