My personal journey started many years ago when I worked in the UK. In 2019 I relocated to San Jose, Costa Rica to be the principal of a primary school. The challenge that was set was to raise the standard of English, not only in reading and writing but also orally. It was then that I knew that the answer was to give teachers the opportunity to use good quality planning outlines that they could 'tropicalize' as well as quality professional development to get them on their way. All this with the idea that if we built our new curriculum around a love for learning with good quality literature the rest would fall into place. I had worked with The Literacy Tree in schools in London and seen the impact they had had in implementing a book based approach.
We began the process by reviewing the Literary Curriculum expectations and the Costa Rican Ministry of Education Expectations, to see where they fit in and where they needed to be slightly adjusted to meet the needs of our pupils. As a school we bought several, if not all of the books that had learning schemes at the time, so the teachers could touch, feel, smell the books and see how they could weave them into the children's learning and the teaching objectives. We also kicked it all off with 2 days of face to face INSET delivered by Literacy Tree consultant, Anthony Legon, here in Costa Rica.
Throughout 2020 and the pandemic continued to have virtual school INSET every trimester to implement, monitor and tweak. We started our hybrid 2021 school year with another series of directed Inset staff meetings led by Anthony, which helped the teachers get on the right track for another new way of teaching. The planning sequences have supported our non-native speakers in being able to map out all the curriculum objectives appropriately and make the lessons more engaging for the pupils. Pupils writing production has increased and pupils knowledge of international authors has grown. Their minds have been opened to different ways to represent writing and to be able to not only write for a purpose but to make links across subjects.
As the principal, it is inspiring to see children passionate about their learning, just last week we had a visit from the 'Mayor of Hamelin' all because the students wrote letters asking him/her to do something about the Pied Piper and the rats. They offered suggestions on how much he should be paid, if there should be a new tax or if the Mayor should pay out of his/her own money as he had taken so long to decide!
A Literary Curriculum membership has been a fantastic investment, not only for the school, but also for the pupil's life long learning.