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  • Writer's pictureM. Kovack

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Massive Shift in Balanced Literacy Thinking Has Begun!

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

There is movement in the balanced literacy world.

I have been waiting 30 years for a critical mass of educators to shift their thinking, examine their biases, and seek out their own misunderstandings.

In the first six weeks of my teaching career, I knew instantly that what I had been taught at teacher's college was not working for a good 25% of my students. Good quality literature - and lots of it - made sense, but it was simply not enough. I had to dig deep for the answers, but they were all right there in the research. It was pretty clear then, and it is crystal clear now. The way we have been teaching reading is flawed. By now, those who are reading this blog have at least heard of the science of reading, and likely know all about balanced literacy. But how are these two dichotomies going to play out in the classroom? We cannot keep throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Shifting the Balance is hot off the press, and as such, I have not had the opportunity to read it yet. However, the authors of the book do something that I have never seen before. They took a deep breath and allowed themselves – and their life’s work – to become vulnerable.

And they make a commitment to the reader:

1. “…to re-evaluate long-held beliefs and practices”;

2. “…to being kind to ourselves, making peace with the unavoidable reality that there are things we have missed, misunderstood and misinterpreted”;

3. “…to honestly appraising our current practices with an open heart and an open mind”;

4. “…to recognizing and reflecting on our own triggers and biases”;

5. “…to actively working to lower our defences so we can raise our awareness”;

6. “…to reconsidering, re-prioritizing, or simply letting go of less helpful practices to space for some that are more effective”;

7. “…we commit to taking action rather than giving into the paralysis of self-doubt or overwhelm” (Burkin & Yates, 2021, p. 7).

And there you have it. I say BRAVO! If you have ever heard of the hundredth monkey effect (fiction, but such a good story), I think this is the shift in thinking that we (original hundred monkeys) have been waiting for.

I have a hunch that this book may be just the ticket for teachers who have been struggling to let go of their balanced literacy ideologies without letting go of everything they have ever known.

To learn more, you can listen to podcasts with the authors and/or order the book HERE.


Burkin & Yates (2021). Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom. Stenhouse Publishers.

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