Literacy Stories

Coaching Articles - Essays for coaches

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Support teachers in telling their literacy life stories using literacy timelines. How have our literacy histories influenced our professional and personal lives, and vice versa? Literacy lifelines are a powerful tool for supporting a learning community as its members learn about each other and grow together.

Literacy Stories

Literacy Stories

by Jan Burkins


Recently, I participated in a meeting where Laura Reid, a professional development leader at Quality Assist in Atlanta, opened our work together by giving us opportunities to tell our literacy stories. The exercise came from Donald A. MacAndrew's book, Literacy Leadership: Six Strategies for Peoplework, and Laura's facilitation and modification of it allowed us to reflect on our literacy histories and to learn about the members of the group.

The exercise involved charting our individual literacy lifelines. Laura suggested we use one color to represent our histories as readers and another to represent our histories as writers. She showed us her sample and talked us through her experiences as a reader and a writer, describing the people and events that influenced her literacy development in positive and negative ways.

Then Laura gave us some time to think, reflect, and draw. Once we were all finished, individuals shared their literacy lifelines with the group. I found the task not only beneficial for me as an individual, as I considered the patterns of literacy learning and work across my life, but also for me as a member of a group. Rarely do we learn about the lifelines of our colleagues, whether in regard to literacy or other areas. These literacy lifelines and our presentations of them offered us windows into each other as readers, writers, thinkers, and people.