After a few years of being a Reading Recovery teacher and Literacy Coach, I was told that due to federal funding cuts my district was reducing our Reading Recovery staff. I was notified that I would be returning back to the classroom and back to second grade.
I was a bit crushed because although I loved my time as a classroom teacher, I had become very passionate about Reading Recovery and coaching. At that point in time, a couple of things helped me to stay optimistic. My district paid for me to continue to attend continuing contact sessions with my fellow Reading Recovery teachers and I was told that the plan was for me to return to Reading Recovery in the future. In hindsight, I realize how lucky I was.
During the summer, I worked on getting my mindset in the right place. Toward the end of July, I felt more and more excited as I started to work on my plans for my first week of school.
I remember what a whirlwind setting up my classroom was. Our school was undergoing construction that year and I was not able to get in to set up my classroom until 3 days before school started. The classroom was virtually empty so I spent a lot of that time making it somewhat welcoming.
Here are some before pictures.
Here are some after pictures. As you can see my classroom is far from Pinterest Perfect but it worked for us (except for the crazy annoying cord situation which was thankfully taken care of later).
After a couple of months of being a classroom teacher again, I started to realize something a little surprising. While I knew that I had a grown so much in the area of literacy I hadn’t realized how much Reading Recovery had changed me as classroom teacher overall.
I had a fresh & more compassionate view of my students.
Reading Recovery teachers are very compassionate to the plight of their students’ struggles with reading and writing. We are empathetic to the child and work hard to improve confidence and a feeling of accomplishment.
Being more compassionate toward a classroom of students led me to look at all of my students from the angle that they do what they know. There is no hidden agenda. If a student struggles with particular behaviors they aren’t out to get me. They are just doing what they know. Approaching students in this way helped me to build strong relationships with all of my students especially the students who struggled the most with displaying appropriate behaviors at school.
I had become a “noticing” teacher.
Reading Recovery teachers know how to look closely at a child’s reading and writing behaviors, identify the child’s strengths and needs, and make tentative statements regarding what will help this child accelerate in their literacy learning.
I found that I was much stronger with noticing more specifically how my students were taking on the learning and what might be getting in the way if progress was slow. Being a noticing teacher allowed me to focus more on my students’ strengths and how those strengths could be used to support their needs.
I had become more proactive and responsive to my students.
When beginning a student’s program Reading Recovery teachers write predictions of progress to ensure that they are guiding their student on to the quickest path that will close the gap between them and their on-grade level peers. Reading Recovery teachers plan for interrupting unwanted behaviors to create more successful responding. Within each lesson Reading Recovery teachers make “on the spot” decisions about how to assist their student with becoming a strategic independent problem solver.
I had become more aware of the importance of setting students up for success rather than always being reactive in the midst of teaching. This type of thinking was especially helpful when considering disruptive classroom behaviors. I thought proactively about what could be done to interrupt the behavior rather than allow the pattern of behavior to continue and then reacting with a consequence. I also found that I was more flexible and responsive to what my students needed from minute to minute. I had the confidence to stray from my lesson plan if I saw that my students needed to go in a different direction.
After a few years back in the classroom, I did return to Reading Recovery. My first year back in Reading Recovery was a little chaotic. I didn’t feel quite like I did my training year, but there was an adjustment period. There was a lot that I needed to freshen up on especially procedure-wise. Now, reflecting back I wouldn’t change those years spent back in the classroom. I think that applying my new understandings developed from Reading Recovery to the classroom and also re-experiencing the constraints and pressures of the classroom helped me to become a more well-rounded teacher.
My time back in the classroom also made me more appreciative of all that I am able to experience as a Reading Recovery teacher. Each year that I am able to be a Reading Recovery teacher I am thankful for the 1:1 time I get to spend with children helping them to acquire a literate future.