Charming Readers
Thank You Letters Are Still Cool and Go A Long Way
  • November 21, 2019

We are always giving a high-five, quick thank you as we pass in the hallways, and quick smile of recognition. However, taking the time to send a thank you note, goes a long way and is actually cool. In our district, one of the recommendations we encourage teachers to adopt is to write a thank you note and include connections to reflective questions asked, feedback received from walk throughs, and data talks during the quarter. We are finding that it gives both the teacher and school administration the permission to process, appreciate, and become more connected between the activities mentioned above. Here is an example shared by one of our READ 180 teachers. We see it as a thank you note for the administrators, but a reinforcing love note for the teachers as they analyze the successes for the quarter.

Dear Administrator,

It’s hard to believe the first marking period is drawing to a conclusion! Time has flown and I still have so much to do. My students have the routines and procedures of my READ 180 classroom figured out and are starting to make real progress. Thank you for supporting us as we worked to gel as a community of readers and learners. Once I had a few students master the routines and procedures, the rest of the class followed suit. I still have to confer with and motivate a few students who are reluctant to get aboard the READ 180 Express, but overall, the class is running smoothly.

I wanted to share my interpretation of my end-of-workshop data. As you know, most of the students placed in this class have struggled with reading in the past. My experience is that progress starts slowly but picks up steam as the year moves along. I like to think of this first end-of-workshop skills assessment as a baseline upon which to compare the other end-of-workshop assessments as we complete other workshops in the coming weeks. I expect to see an upward trend in scores over time. What is really a positive indicator is that the Workshop Skills Assessment scores are higher than the Student App scores. While over time, I’d like both to improve much more, it’s nice to know that my direct instruction is making a difference in performance.

One of the things I have done with this data is to group students by areas of skill and strategy weakness. I’ve done this with the help of the Groupinator tool, which groups students for me based upon their scores on the assessments and from the student app, and then recommends the lessons to reteach and fine tune the work in that area. I’ve also identified some students with whom I need to confer about their work habits and study skills. Some of these conferences will be celebrations of success on goals which will then drive the setting of new goals. Some of these conferences will be about self-monitoring progress towards the student’s original goals, implementing a tweak on the strategies for success, and setting a date to check on progress in the future. I encourage you to walk through and watch conferring in action the week after Thanksgiving break.

I was really surprised when you dropped by my 4th period to congratulate them on their success on their Reading Counts! quizzes. I didn’t how much you paid attention to the HMH Leader Central. When I asked how you get it all done in a day, it was interesting to hear how you set a reminder on your calendar to have your secretary print the School Snapshot once a month and leave it on your desk. I also thought it was intriguing that you drill down to class and student specific data whenever you do a walkthrough in my room.

While it surprised me the first time you sent me an email with questions about the data you were seeing, it’s nice to know that you really want to understand the responses to the reading instruction and how READ 180 works. Remember, when you look at the Diagnostic Skills report, it’s normal for scores on the student app and the workshop assessment skills to be a little lower this time of year. Trust me, we’re working on a class average of 75% by mid-year. I’ve been using the Student App report, Reading Counts! and reading notebook/portfolio work, and the student’s ReaL books to help the students set goals, be accountable for quality work, and to help them help themselves by developing work habits and study skills that get the job done.

I appreciate the little things you do as a reader to support our building reading community, also. I enjoy seeing your occasional Tweets about what leadership books you are reading and how they impacted you. When appropriate, I share them with my students to show them that one reason to read it to become better at your job or to grow your skill set. 

A shout out for distributing the English department instructional funds across all the departments. I’m using the $250 allocated to the reading department for  new books. My students are always so excited on new book day. I make a big deal out of displaying and promoting our three new titles a month. Sometimes I even raffle the first three checkouts! This month we got the newest Jason Reynolds and the second book in a graphic novel series that my students are gaga about. I’ll let you know when our next shipment comes in and maybe you can come by and give an endorsement on a book. I’ll make a movie of your testimonial on my phone and show it to my other periods.

One other thing I am grateful for is your continuing support with ensuring that my students are at school and in class on time. I appreciate the way you work with parents to help them understand that regular attendance makes learning easier. It’s a gift to be able to communicate persuasively and politely to parents. The new policy on not allowing students to leave class within 10 minutes of the bell has helped my kids get started more smoothly and to wrap up class more efficiently. 

I know you wear a million hats and do the work of a superhuman every day. I just wanted to say that all the things you do make me feel supported in my work. I even appreciate when you leave me a reflective question so that I can refine my practice. They say it takes a village to raise a child, or in this case a reader, and I am glad you are part of my village.


Yours in Literacy,

A grateful READ 180 teacher