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Kaitlyn Kelleher MNPS Literacy Resource Reflection May 31, 2017

MNPS CONTEXT

The education debt (connected with what is called the achievement gap) arises from
centuries of American slavery, racism, disenfranchisement, and segregation (Ladson-Billings,
2006). This debt has finally become a topic of intense debate among public school districts, and
though efforts are made with the best intentions, failure is common due to segregation,
inequitable funding, and lack of student engagement.
The education debt can be lessened by the adoption of asset-based literacy practices
within the MNPS districts Literacy Plan. These asset-based literacy practices (Big Ideas 1-4 of
the MNPS Rough Draft) use culturally and linguistically relevant resources to engage students in
authentic, purposeful tasks and texts (Pitre, 2014; Greene, 2016). Such practices are a significant
shift in the paradigm because current educational policy emphasizes the deficits of content
knowledge found in underserved groups (Ladson-Billings, 2006). The pedagogy of the MNPS
plan for an engaging an authentic approach to literacy practices does include content standards,
but emphasizes processes of literacy used to explore these standards. Researchers of disciplinary
literacy suggest that emphasizing flexible literacy processes in tandem with content, in
curriculum design, has the potential to transcend a pre-existing separation of disciplines (Gillis,
2014; Moje, 2015). Emphasis on flexible processes of literacy might enable a universal design
for learning that could pay societal dues to underserved populations (Hitchcock et al., 2016).

AIM

How can the change in pedagogy occur in MNPS schools? A possible answer is to apply
asset-based literacy practices to empower teacher learning. The aim of this project is to
implement asset-based, culturally responsive andragogy to allow diverse groups of teachers to
compare their own definitions of literacy topics, within their discipline, and how they can use the
resources from the MNPS literacy committee to improve their own practice and work towards
creating a collective culture of literacy learning in their schools.

CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE ANDRAGOGY

Students are not the only ones learning in schools. Arguably, every working environment
is a learning environment, and success relies on numerous stakeholders being able to improve
personal practice. Over the last two hundred years, there has been an ongoing debate about
whether there are differences in how adults and children learn (Henschke, 2011). Some say that
andragogy, or adult learning, lacks empirical evidence for validation. But others say that adult
learning is separate from pedagogy, or child learning, and wholly dependent on informal,
interpersonal interactions (Savicevic, 1999).
In the face of this uncertainty, it might be wise to take the approach of universal design
and create a program for teachers that incorporates best practices of both pedagogy and
andragogy. Pedagogy practices for teacher engagement could involve metalanguage (Berry,
2005), or language about language, to communicate different perceptions of literacy practices to
colleagues. Pedagogical strategies to be used in adult learning could also include authentic tasks,
culturally responsive texts, and personal connections (promoted in MNPS meetings). Andragogy
practices for teacher engagement could contribute to the structure of teacher learning experiences
Kaitlyn Kelleher MNPS Literacy Resource Reflection May 31, 2017

by allowing teacher learning experiences to become informal interactions and discussions, as


opposed to formal expert/novice professional development workshops.

DESCRIPTION OF SAMPLE GRADE-LEVEL DISCUSSION GUIDE:


AN INFORMAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE

To assist with designing culturally responsive andragogy, which will empower teacher
engagement in the MNPS plan, I designed a discussion guide for grade-level teacher leaders. The
discussion guide uses informal grade-level conversations and content-area activities to help
teachers accomplish the following objectives.

Teachers remove communicative barriers in discussion by agreeing on collective


terminology surrounding literacy practice (glossary of terms)
Teachers contribute to instructional leadership by training each other on specific
disciplinary literacies and creating a grade-level literacy plan (in response to the district
wide plan).
o This plan should discuss stakeholder roles/responsibilities, expectations for
student literacy practices by content area, and effective strategies that can be used
to promote these targeted literacy practices.
Teachers support each other's disciplinary literacies by suggesting/adopting effective
strategies for targeted literacy practices.
Teachers promote differentiation and development of literacy practices across grade
levels by teacher-leader collaboration with grade-level chairs and special/gifted
educators.

I targeted the role of grade-level teacher leaders, because they are in-between two major
roles of literacy reform. Printy & Marks (2006) reported that, "teachers contribute to
instructional leadership when they interact productively with other adults in the school around
school reform efforts, learn with their school colleagues, seek to improve their own professional
practice, and expect others to do the same (p. 125). While teachers do this, principals invest
teachers with resources and instructional support and maintain the congruence and consistency of
the educational program. Principals put teachers who wish to learn in contact with other
innovative teachers, support organizational processes for discussion and consideration of
curricular issues, and provide feedback based on student learning outcomes" (Marks & Printy,
2006, p. 125-126).
To help principals and administrators on their mission to support teachers professional
development, I created the Practical Implementation Diagram for Literacy Promotion to help
evolve grade-level literacy practice over time. Once grade-levels create a framework of
disciplinary literacies and strategies to promote these literacies, the framework is shared across
grade levels for contextual feedback. Teachers who dont work with each other normally can
discover how their literacy practices scaffold, or differ from, other grade-level practices. This
diagram was inspired by a fluid business model that uses resources and stakeholder perspectives
to adapt the service given for a specific context (Osterwalder, 2004), so it also incorporates
special educator, gifted educator, parent, community, and student feedback on grade-level
literacy practices. It can also serve as a form of data that principals can use to measure how the
MNPS literacy initiative is being implemented across the district. Data yielded by these
collaborative processes can inform Universal Design for Literacy Learning.
Kaitlyn Kelleher MNPS Literacy Resource Reflection May 31, 2017

CONCLUSION

MNPSs literacy plan should implement asset-based, culturally responsive andragogy to


allow diverse groups of teachers to compare their own definitions/beliefs of literacy practices.
These andragogy practices also help teachers explore how they can use their resources from the
school and district to improve their own practice and work towards creating a collective culture
of literacy learning in their school. The generation of grade-level plans will aid in vertical
planning and allow principals and other administrators to measure how the processes of the
MNPS literacy plan are being implemented across the district.

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Kaitlyn Kelleher MNPS Literacy Resource Reflection May 31, 2017

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