Sunday, December 11, 2016

Promoting Literacy in the Workplace

According to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the United States and 19% of graduating seniors cannot read (for more information check out the article here). Most of the literacy programs within the education system are focused at the early childhood and primary levels.  I believe we need to start emphasizing this more in the secondary grade levels and even in the work place.  This love of reading should be instilled not only in every child, but also in every adult.  Here are a few simple ways to promote literacy in your workplace.
The book basket I started in my
office with books from some of my
favorite authors.

1. Start a Book Basket.  If you do not have a basket you can use a box or bin instead.  Make sure you place it in a high traffic area, such as the mail room, the lunch area, or where everyone signs in and out.  The idea is that these books are easily accessible by any colleague in order to promote leisurely reading.  Bring a few books that are laying around your house that you have already read and donate them to your workplace.  Everyone can take a book as long as they promise to bring at least one back to share. When the book has been read, it should be brought back so someone else can enjoy.  This will also hopefully inspire some collaboration and discussion about the books. 

2. Write a Weekly Reflection or Newsletter. Writing is a great way to reflect on what has happened and can help you plan out for the days or weeks to come.  It also provides a sense of accomplishment once you realize all the things have been completed.  I am required to turn in weekly reports to my director which helps me plan out my upcoming week, lists what I have accomplished, and allows me to reflect back or ask questions on things I am still unclear about (check out one of my weekly reports here).   You can also reflect by writing a newsletter to your staff, campus, workplace, or even parents.  This is a great tool to communicate with those you work with so everyone is on the same page.  An example newsletter used by one of the campuses I work with can be found here (thank you Mrs. Stumbaugh for sharing!)  This is a great way to get messages sent out quickly and encourages your staff to read important articles or get any updates or news related to the workplace. 

3. Practice Reading or Writing Yoga.  Read or write silently for at least ten minutes. You can easily turn your workplace into a relaxing yoga studio by dimming the lights or adding party or holiday lights.  Turn on a wax burner or oil diffuser to stimulate your nostrils.  Play some instrumental music to set the tone and maybe bring a rug, beanbag, or pillows to allow you to get more comfortable.  You can even brew some hot tea or make some hot chocolate to stimulate your taste buds too!  This environment will really help relax all your senses and provide somewhat of a mental break from the stress and workload that you may be faced with.  I highly suggest you try it out!  You and your colleagues will be amazed on how energized and relaxed you will feel afterwards. 

4. Write a Thank You Note.  Many times we get caught up with work that we forgot to thank those around us.  We take for granted those people that mean the most to us and those whose work goes unnoticed.  Take a few minuets to write a small thank you note to someone that you work with that has done something for you or that rarely gets noticed for their hard work (the janitors, cafeteria ladies, security guards, and secretaries are a great place to start). I guarantee this small act of kindness will mean the world to whomever you deliver it to.  Let them know that you care and you are grateful to work alongside them.   

5. Create a Book Club. Get a group of colleagues to commit to read a book that everyone agrees upon and set weekly or monthly expectations for what should be read.  Try to meet over breakfast, lunch, or happy hour to discuss.  If everyone is crunched for time, you can start a slow twitter chat and pose questions to each other regarding the book.  Last year I participated in a campus book club.  We read, "Teach Like a Pirate," by Dave Burgess (great read for any educator!)  All staff members that participated were encouraged to meet three times after school where we participated in discussion questions and activities about the book.  At each session many instructional strategies were also modeled and reinforced (check out an example activity here).
My gratitude jar which sits on my desk as a daily
reminder that I should always be giving thanks.
6. Start a Gratitude Jar.  Take some time to write down what you are thankful for on some post-its.  Keep them in a plastic or glass jar and place it near your computer or someplace in your office were it is easily noticeable as a daily reminder to constantly write and add to our growing  gratitude jar. 

I hope you get a chance to incorporate all or at least a few of these ideas in your own workplace in order to promote a lifelong love of reading with all of your colleagues.  Remember, the best gift you can give your colleagues this holiday season is a chance to get lost in the magical world of books. Please share the literacy love in your workplace. Peace, joy, and happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment