“SUCCESS FOR EVERY CHILD IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY. SIMPLY GIVING A CHILD WHO IS STRUGGLING WITH YOUR TEACHING A GRADE THAT WILL SERVE ONLY TO MAKE THE CHILD FEEL LIKE A FAILURE IS REALLY JUST REFLECTIVE OF YOUR FAILURE TO DO WHAT YOU ARE THERE TO DO. SUCCESS IS NOT RESERVED FOR A FEW BUT IS THE BIRTHRIGHT OF EVERY CHILD NO MATTER WHERE THEY MAY BE IN THE LEARNING PROCESS”- Dr. Mary Howard
The second week of the school year begins tomorrow. After last week I feel like we have been going forever already. Not in a bad way, it just seems so natural. To sit down and visit with students, to laugh with them, to learn with them.
I opened this post quoting my brilliant friend Mary because a small nagging little thought has just been floating around. As we start the year we look at our students and their personalities but we also look into their records. We prepare, hopefully, for how we are going to reach each student and their unique learning needs. Going over notes from past teachers you see the labels and levels that testing brings. What sticks out to me most is that the same kids year after year are the ones to “watch out” for, they are the ones that struggle. Teachers continue to do the same thing with both struggling readers and mathematicians, slower and louder.
Eventually, some put their hands up and say, “I have tried x,y,z and they still don’t get it” I can’t help but wonder if “x,y,z” is not the prescription. If we treat all students with the same solution for a similar but different problem we are not respecting the unique struggle they are having. They could be struggling with early literacy skills like phonemic awareness and alphabetic principle as some like to beat the drum over, they could be struggling with comprehension, fluency or attention to the text. There really is so much that could be interfering in a students ability to access text. So why do we think the treatment should be linear?
This week I met my new students, many talked about how reading is hard (no reasons why) one told me it is just hard to keep everything in order. Their past records indicated a lot of work on fluency, programs and levels. I wondered if anyone had just asked this wonderful student what they like to read. So I did and he told me detail after detail about his favourite book (he read it with his mom). The comprehension wasn’t the issue but he was being held to only reading books at his tested level while his comprehension is so much more. He got bored with other books and lost track of where he was. I can’t imagine having to be judged as a reader based solely on a test and the data it provides.
This year I plan to conference more, talk more with my students and find out what they, the person, need to be successful not just what the numbers on a page provide. Numbers are important, foundational skills are important but when they become the only focus we lose sight of who we are there to serve.
“SUCCESS IS NOT RESERVED FOR A FEW BUT IS THE BIRTHRIGHT OF EVERY CHILD NO MATTER WHERE THEY MAY BE IN THE LEARNING PROCESS”
I thank Mary for the reminder. I am grateful for the opportunity to put it to work again this year.