How Might We Find Common Ground to Teach Reading?

Mar 21, 2023
Two small children wearing hats sitting in a field reading.

Phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension and fluency – these are five commonly accepted components of reading and seemingly without a lot of common ground thinking on how best to teach them to our nation’s children.

In this Monday Kickstarters session, we explored this divisive topic using Conversations Worth Having practices. Here’s what we developed to find common ground through conversation:

Positive Frame

Name it: We disagree on a methodology for teaching reading.

Flip it: We agree on the methodology for teaching reading.

Frame it: Educators collaborate effectively. We find common ground on the aspects of reading that are most important and work forward from there. More children get what they need to read.

The selected frame was a compilation of other frames that were selected in addition to other frames that were offered including these: 

  • All children would benefit from options.
  • Children would learn to read in a way that works for them.
  • Consistent method, better results, less stress on student.
  • We would have understanding and innovation around teaching reading.
  • Parents supporting the process at home.
  • Children would get a combined perspective that includes both POVs functionally.
  • The methodology would reach the most children.
  • Results to share, best practices, could be a combination via a true experiment.

Generative Questions  

To foster a conversation worth having, using the frame above, the group crafted the following questions:

  • What assumptions are we making on both sides?
  • What options are available and what has worked well in the past with students?
  • What are the strengths of each approach?
  • What have you found works well with the students?
  • What is the background of these approaches? Why do you prefer the approach you do?
  • How does this affect you and/or your students and family?
  • What worked for you when you learned to read?
  • What are the parts that people agree on?
  • What does the data tell us about student needs?
  • What do you respect about your colleagues?
  • How might we structure an experiment to identify results?
  • When we have collaborated well before, what were we doing?
  • What does it look like for educators to collaborate well when they have different perspectives?
  • How can we find common ground on the aspects of reading that are most important and work forward from there?
  • What is our experience with these approaches?
  • How might we combine the best of what is working? Some additional questions we might consider include:
    • What countries have the highest rate of literacy?
    • How do those countries teach children to read?
    • What experiments might we try?


Cool Tip from Conversations Worth Having

This week’s Cool Tip is another reminder to go beyond the limits when dreaming about a frame. It can be challenging when we’re “in the moment,” especially when tensions are high. This is where another Conversations Worth Having practice can be very helpful; that is to Pause, Breathe, and Get Curious. Being curious about a frame provides the fertile ground that allows us to learn new things, develop a broader perspective on life, solve problems, and find meaning in our work and lives. In other words, it’s the dreamy “reach for the stars” frames that ultimately lead to the most desired outcomes.

Shared by Kelly Stewart, The Positive Business, Certified Conversations Worth Having Trainer and Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator.


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