4 Tips for Maximizing Your Literacy Goals for the 2017–2018 School Year

School is back in session! It’s time for another literacy-filled, exciting, (and maybe a little exhausting!) academic year.

Have you determined your 2017–2018 literacy goals for your classroom, school or district? We all enter the new school year with the best intentions, and once the bell actually rings, we have little time to do anything but really support the kids. Below are a few tips and tricks to help you stay focused on your literacy goals.

Pause and Reflect. Rinse. Repeat.

The best place to start constructing your 2017–2018 goals is with your 2016–2017 outcomes. Spend time reflecting on your successes and challenges as you map out how to achieve your 2017-2018 goals. Take note of specific accomplishments, as well as any intentions you had that did not come to fruition. Pausing to reflect is never-ending work. As you make gains and hit obstacles in the school year, continue to assess your current goals, tweak as necessary, and drive forward in your mission to make literacy gains across your district.

Generate Excitement Among Colleagues, Staff, and Students

One of the best ways to hit and surpass goals is to loudly share them, and ensure your stakeholders are motivated to reach them. Your goals should not be kept in a binder on a dusty shelf, only to appear again at the end of the school year. Communicate your goals to your colleagues and staff, and include your students when it makes sense. Think through how students can take control of their own learning to help meet the district’s literacy goals. What will get them excited?

One of the best examples of sharing goals and creating motivation among students is to develop and execute reading contests. Elementary students in Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut read more than half a million books on myON last year. Part of this success was due to district-wide literacy competitions. If you’re looking for student excitement, Bridgeport found one foolproof method!

Involve Your Community

We all know literacy does not happen in a single lesson, class, or even school building. Literacy takes an entire community encouraging and supporting its students—it really does take a village.

Mission CISD in Texas is focusing its back to school efforts on reaching outside its school walls and including its community. Superintendent Dr. Ricardo Lopez works to involve local libraries, businesses, and government organizations to help provide access to devices and reading to anyone in the community who is interested in learning. He is currently working with the city of Mission to provide free WiFi throughout the community. You can hear more about Mission’s community effort in this recent Education Talk Radio interview.

Consistency is Key

The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” certainly applies to literacy models. Build momentum off what worked last school year, or create a long-term plan that will provide your staff, community, and students consistency. Spending time now on implementing a quality tool, program, or literacy model will provide a solid literacy foundation for years to come.

Berwyn South School District 100 found remarkable success building a blended model by using methods that have worked for them in the past. By starting with literacy tools they already had, students were already familiar with the basics—reducing any learning curve. Ensuring students, parents, and teachers were already comfortable with a program helped everyone succeed.

Reflecting on your goals throughout the school year, creating excitement in your district, getting your community is involved, and planning for a consistent path to literacy will not only ensure you are maximizing your goals, but will also promote a culture of literacy in your district. Have a great year!

Elyse August

Elyse is Vice President of Services at myON. She has worked with educators, communities, families, and students across the nation to build sustainable programs that promote personalized literacy.