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Personal Philosophy of Literacy

I believe all students are capable and willing learners when they are engaged with their
environment and feel like a valued member in the safety of our learning community. Students
arrive at school with an array of experiences with literacy. Some students may have numerous
exposures, while other students may have little to none. As a facilitator of learning, it is my job
to determine where each students level of experience is and how to best guide them toward a
positive interaction with literacy within the walls of our classroom community. Through guided
support, I will lead students to the next level of their literacy development through consistent
encouragement, individual challenges, and positive reinforcement.
Maslows hierarchy of needs states that the most basic needs must be met in order for one
to move on to the next level (Maslow, 1954). Huitt (2007) explains the order in which one must
accomplish the levels to be capable to move on to the next level and eventually achieve self-
actualization. Physiological needs such as hunger and thirst must be met before students can
move on to feeling safe and secure. Once needs of safety and security are met then students
can move into belongingness and love, where one can affiliate with others and be accepted.
Next one moves into esteem where the ability to achieve and be competent comes in. From
esteem comes cognitive where one is able to know, understand, and explore. Once this is
achieved, individuals move into aesthetic which is the ability to see order and beauty in things.
Lastly, one moves into the self-actualization level, where there is self-fulfillment and the
ability to realize ones potential. It is believed that when one reaches self-actualization, they
acquire wisdom and are able to handle a variety of situations.
As an educator it is my responsibility to recognize that students will be operating within a
variety of realms of Maslows hierarchy of needs. When students are coming from a home where
their physiological needs are not being met, they do not feel safe and secure, and they do not
have a sense of love and belonging, then students cannot move into a realm where learning and
achievement can occur within the classroom setting. Through providing an environment where
students know they will be fed, can rely on consistency that promotes safety and security, and
know they are loved and belong, then it is my desire that all students will operate within the
cognitive level.
In literacy, it is critical that students are operating at the cognitive level so they can be
confident in their skills and abilities, understand and engage with instruction, and can explore
literature with confidence, both individually and collectively. I plan to use the workshop model
to engage with literature for extended periods of time. Before the start of the workshop model,
students will be provided with a small snack to ensure hunger is not interfering with their
learning capabilities. Mini-lessons will begin with a read-a-loud that will include literature about
inclusion, comfort, and well-being and reading strategies will be introduced. Students will then
be able to engross themselves with their just right books in an area of the classroom where
they feel comfortable and confident to practice their skills. While students are absorbed in their
literature, I will be conferring with individual students and small groups to provide differentiated
materials for struggling readers, as well as excelling readers. I plan on using the comprehensive
approach which focuses on reading and writing for meaning through an incorporation of
literature across a multitude of content areas. For struggling readers and ELL students I will
utilize strategies such as guided reading and writing and electronic books. For excelling readers,
I plan to implement an electronic research project based on relevant literature. I will also use
flexible grouping based on interests rather than solely on reading level. This is done with the
intention of allowing students to experience a variety of reading styles. During the last ten
minutes of our readers workshop, we will spend time sharing and debriefing about experiences
within the safety of our learning community. This will serve as an informal assessment for me to
determine any modifications or clarifications that need to be made to my lesson plans and will
allow me to plan necessary interventions for particular students. It is my intention to provide a
literature-rich environment, where students can focus because they know they are taken care of
and are inspired to increase their level of achievement.
As a guide to students, it is my role to provide experiences where children can use
schema and strategies to confidently attempt new challenges. Students who encounter these
challenges, but cannot yet master them, may eventually master the task when assisted by a more
experienced other (McLeod, 2010). Vygotskys Zone of Proximal Development is defined as,
"the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem
solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under
adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p86). When
students are provided with scaffolding, or building upon what they know, this gives students the
ability to achieve tasks that were previously not mastered. Eventually, the student no longer
needs the scaffolding and can achieve the task alone.
In literacy, each student will need an individualized level of scaffolding in order to
master the considerable amount of new tasks they will encounter. Through the introduction of
new literature, vocabulary, and strategies, students will be constantly challenged to first confront
tasks on their own and then will be supported through scaffolding. Within the workshop model,
students will be presented with a challenge during the mini-lesson, the task will be modeled, and
then students will be urged to practice on their own. Throughout the work session of the
model, I will provide scaffolding to individual students during conferring and assessing. English
Language Learners and struggling readers may need support in their schema, whereas excelling
readers may need extension activities to challenge their thinking even further. I will continue to
use the comprehensive approach through the integration of a multitude of content areas. Students
who may not have an interest in reading may benefit from literature in a subject that interests
him or her. For struggling readers and ELL students, I will utilize a word wall, interactive
writing, and buddy reading with a peer-mentor. For excelling readers I will implement literacy
clubs and a mentor program within our classroom, where they serve as a guide for other students.
Students will demonstrate their understanding of the new skill through oral presentation or will
have the opportunity to self-reflect in their reading journal. During the de-brief time, students
will have the opportunity to share the mastery of their new task and offer their self-reflection on
how they reached that level of mastery. Self-reflective journals and oral presentation provide an
opportunity for me to formatively assess students and design intervention strategies appropriate
to their needs.
As a facilitator of learning I will use Maslows Hierarchy of Needs to design an
environment that students feel nurtured and self-assured in order to promote them to cognitive
functioning in literacy. Within our learning community, students will feel secure enough to take
risks and engage with challenging tasks because they know I will be there to guide and support
them through satisfying their basic needs. I will use Vygotskys Theory of Zone of Proximal
Development to meet individual students at their current level and then challenge them with the
next step in their learning. By working with students one-on-one to scaffold learning or allowing
them to work in small literacy groups with student experts in developing areas, then students
will be supported by a more experienced other who can aid in literacy growth. The combination
of these two theories will provide an engaging, literacy-rich environment where students will be
able to soar.