|BALANCED LITERACY PROGRAM KEPT THIS TEACHER IN THE PROFESSION|
MONTREAL, JANUARY 22, 2016 – The story of Dante Elementary School in St. Léonard and the implementation of balanced literacy, which seeks to create a differentiated learning environment and provide more individualized feedback to students, is a great success. However, one of the program’s most enthusiastic supporters – Grade 3 teacher Elaine Frenette – started out as one of its biggest doubters.
“When I first heard about balanced literacy, and the Daily 5 framework to put it in into place, I already had a lot on my plate as a teacher,” said Ms. Frenette. “As I began to find out what it was all about I began to feel quite overwhelmed. I was becoming concerned about the fact that this new approach to literacy instruction might put even more on my plate, which meant spending more nights and weekends preparing the work.”
Feeling frustrated, Ms. Frenette even contemplated leaving the teaching profession. When she began to read and understand how balanced literacy – through The Daily 5 framework – was to be actually implemented, Ms. Frenette’s perception of it began to change for the better. Ms. Frenette admits she likes how the Daily 5 framework gives her the opportunity to deal with her students on a more individualized, one-on-one basis. She now better understands each student’s needs when it comes to learning how to read and write; and unlike what she originally feared about the program, it gives her plenty of time to focus on the many other aspects of her job. As well, it gives her students a sense of independence.
“When I visited Ms. Frenette’s classroom during a Daily 5 session, I noticed that her students knew exactly what to do,” noted Daniela Lattanzio, the principal of Dante. “They were moving along quite independently from one center to another, and were helping each other out with the different activities. It was beautiful to see the students so engaged. In fact, when I went into the classroom to talk to Ms. Frenette the students just continued to work in an orderly manner. I am really proud of my students and what they have accomplished. And after more than four years, I couldn’t see myself not using a balanced literacy approach,” she added.
Whenever teachers from another EMSB elementary school visit Dante to learn about how they have successfully implemented the balanced literacy approach through the Daily 5 framework, every presentation concludes with a speech from its most passionate supporter, Elaine Frenette, who declares that without this framework, she may have left teaching altogether.
Michael J. Cohen