The young man I began working with on Thursday afternoon would not fit Allen’s criteria for her literacy intervention classroom, and that disturbs me. I understand that she needed to prove the program could be successful; however, I question the motives. It seems to me that the school addressed the immediate needs of fourteen students who would be borderline in passing the state test. Sad but probably true.
Only years of teaching helped me get through my experience on Thursday. Don’t get me wrong, Billy is an adorable, intelligent, interesting young man. But, I realized within sixty seconds of meeting Billy that he was well below his 3rd grade placement, when I handed him the map of the building so he could help find our classroom. As I ask him to find the library, he pointed to the lounge on the map. Being over prepared paid-off; as I was unable to give all of the tests I planned, due to Billy’s inability to read. Looking back, I really do not know how I could have planned any differently, with so little information. I learned more from sharing a read aloud, asking questions, and listening, than from my assessments. Of course, observation is assessment, right? Now, I really move out of my comfort zone into assessing phonics skills. As many classes as I have taken, the fact that I was not taught to read using phonics has forever plagued me in my teaching. At this point, I really think it is more apprehension with unpracticed strategies, than lack of knowledge. I am concerned about our space, as Billy speaks loudly, not in a whisper, and two other students are in the room working. I did not hear them, and Billy seemed unphased by their presence, however, we may have disturbed them. As we talked in our groups after the students left, I listened to the frustrations and fears of new teachers, realizing the importance of collaboration among colleagues. What each of them must realize is they bring something to the table also, fresh ideas, a desire for success, and undoubtedly, knowledge of phonics!