Help! My Student is Not Progressing with Reading!

Sometimes, whether we are the classroom teacher or the reading interventionist, we come to a point with a student where we are stuck.  We notice from our data that the student has plateaued.  We panic a bit and think, “what do I do now?”   Whenever I face this struggle I have a few go-to strategies that help me to support my student in gaining momentum again.

Be Honest With Yourself

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I been seeing my student regularly?
  • Have I been doing a deep analysis of my running records?
  • Have I been using my running records to help guide my instruction?
  • Have I been taking the time to thoughtfully plan my lessons?

We all want the best for our students, but sometimes various circumstances get in the way of our best intentions.  If the answer is “no” to any of the above questions make an action plan for yourself. Brainstorm a few ideas to help yourself get back on track.

 Videotape a Lesson

Recording a lesson can provide you with invaluable information about your teaching and the student’s strategic activity that you may miss when you are immersed in your lesson.  After recording a lesson use a t-chart like the chart pictured below to record observations of your teaching moves and the child’s responses.  This will be a way to see how the student takes on the learning and what actions the student takes after your prompting.  This is also great to do with another colleague who will be another set of eyes.


Student/Teacher t-chart


Set up Cluster Visit

Cluster visits can be a powerful experience for all involved.  A cluster visit would involve you teaching a lesson with a team of teachers sitting in on the lesson.  You may want to include the following people:

  • 1-3 Classroom Teachers
  • 1-3 Reading teachers
  • Speech/Language therapist (if applicable)
  • ESL teacher (if applicable)
  • Literacy coach

The cluster meeting would typically have the following structure:

Pre-Lesson Meeting:  20-30 minutes

The teacher doing the lesson gives the team a snapshot of what the student is successful with and struggling with, what they plan to do during the lesson, and what they are working on as a teacher.

Lesson:  30 minutes

During the lesson, the teachers observing the teaching can take notes on a t-chart like the one shown above.

Post-Lesson Meeting:  40-60 minutes

After the lesson, the team meets to debrief about their observations and helps to create a plan that the teacher can implement during the next lesson.


Schedule Time with a Knowledgeable Colleague

Having another set of eyes looking at your running records and lesson record notes can help to find patterns you may have overlooked.  Schedule a meeting with another classroom teacher, literacy interventionist, or literacy coach that is knowledgeable about the reading process.  After looking at patterns of behaviors you may want to read a helpful resource before creating a plan for your next steps.  Here are a few of my favorite resources that I like to have on hand:

When Readers Struggle:  Teaching that Works

Teaching Struggling Readers

Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals

Guided Reading:  Responsive Teaching Across the Grade

The Fountas and Pinnell Literacy Continuum

We all work with students that challenge us.  The most important thing is to take a look at your teaching and reach out to your support systems quickly so that your student can catch up to their peers.




One thought on “Help! My Student is Not Progressing with Reading!

  1. Pingback: Optimizing Literacy Instruction for our Special Education Students: Part 1 – Literacy Pages

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