Many of you know that I spent the last school year teaching kindergarten instead of Reading Recovery. While I missed Reading Recovery, I tried to stay positive and use my Reading Recovery knowledge to support my students’ learning in the classroom. Leaving Reading Recovery to go back to the classroom was not new to me. Click on the link below if you would like to read more about my previous experience.
While there are many pieces that I miss when I don’t have my own classroom, I was happy to find out that, in September, I will be returning to my Reading Recovery position. While I was contemplating my return to Reading Recovery, it dawned on me that it has actually been about a school year and a half since I have worked with Reading Recovery students.
When you are a teacher in the classroom, there’s a lot of noise. You’re pulled in all different directions. There are mandates that you must follow (whether you agree or disagree). Due to all of that noise, I felt it was important to re-immerse myself into Clay’s work to better prepare for my return to Reading Recovery. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been rereading Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals (2nd ed.) focusing on the introduction and chapter 1: Preventing reading and writing difficulties.
I am using this post to capture the components that I want to keep in mind as I start the new school year. None of the items below will be new to a seasoned Reading Recovery teacher. My purpose is to think deeply about the following headings and what this means in regards to me, my students, the teachers I work with, and my school.
Plan Different Paths to Similar Outcomes
Not all children learn what we would like them to learn through the same experiences. There is nothing wrong with a child when they do not learn something via a particular means. Reading Recovery teachers can work together with classroom teachers to construct the learning path for a particular child. If the classroom curriculum is impeding the child’s progress the team can work together to examine where the student is in their learning and create a plan for extending and deepening the student’s understandings from where they are. Reading Recovery teachers can help to keep the focus on what the child can do at any given point in time and what the next logical step would be to support the child in meeting the overarching goals that have been set. It can also be helpful to support teachers with knowing what behaviors to notice and look for. In our own lessons, we have to remember to be tentative and flexible. We may have worked with a child with a similar profile in the past, but that doesn’t mean what worked with that student will also work with the student in front of us.
Acceleration is not an easy feat, but It is of the utmost importance to keep this goal in mind. The following reminders will help us to work toward this goal:
- What we teach should come directly from a student’s behaviors as we observe him/her as they read/write (not our own agenda of what we think is important to learn next)
- High-frequency words and letter work done in isolation must come from our student’s reading and writing (not from our own list of words that we think are important to learn)
- We need to get help when progress is slow and examine our teaching to consider what we might be doing that could be blocking the learning
- Choose memorable examples that are connected to what they child knows and that can be easily found and applied in many future reading and writing experiences
- Set the stage for discovery and independence so that the student becomes an active learner who seeks his/her own solution to problems (and doesn’t wait and expect the teacher to do the work)
- Work within motivating texts that have a balance of what the child knows and what is new that can extend his/her understanding about the reading process (when planning, go page-by-page thinking about what the child should be able to problem solve, what they might need support with, what will be too hard)
- Help your student to see the link between reading and writing (don’t assume that because they can do it one area they understand how it works in the other area)
- Sometimes we have to slow down the learning to attend to detail, but this must be temporary and learning must be sped back up as soon as possible
- DO NOT waste time teaching the child things they already know
Advocate for Daily instruction
It is very difficult to build on what the child knows when our Reading Recovery lesson series has constant interruptions. It can be a struggle for the child to carry their learning over just to the next day, so when we add multiple missed days we make it extra difficult for carryover to occur. Reading Recovery teachers have to work with their administration to help them understand the importance of scheduling meetings, testing and other such responsibilities outside of our teaching time. If a student has poor attendance we have to intercede as quickly as possible to figure out how we can improve attendance. This may involve a conversation with the child’s teacher, the child’s parents, administration, or all three.
As always, reading Clay’s work made me feel refreshed and excited for a new school year. I plan to look back on these notes throughout the first round as reminders to stay on track. The next step for me will be some goal setting in an area that I would like to focus on this school year.
Are any of you returning to Reading Recovery after some time away? Do you have any important reminders for us as we kick off the new school year?