A little means a lot
I get emotional thinking about my #teacherpc2019 Day 2 experience. It's a perfect example of how a small investment of time and encouragement can have a huge impact on a student. Here's the story:
The adult in the photo, Kate, is a substitute special education paraprofessional in our building. She has a small block of time in her schedule when she is assigned to work with a 4th grade student who struggles with reading. For the past week or two, she's been using a reading fluency intervention with him which involves repeated re-reading of poems. Part of the intervention includes having him read his poem to various "Lucky Listeners" which simultaneously gives him an authentic purpose for reading, allows him to have many repeated readings, and also taps into the development of important oral communication and social skills. I have been blessed to be one of his "Lucky Listeners" several times.
On Tuesday of this week, he read his new "Squirrel" poem to me. I'm not gonna lie. His reading of the poem was pretty choppy, and he needed prompting many times while reading. Still, I was super proud of him for working so hard and for reading it to me. On Wednesday, Kate brought him back to read the same poem to me again. In between his first reading to me on Tuesday and the reading on Wednesday, he'd read and practiced it a few more times. I was NOT prepared for how much more fluently he read it just 24 hours later!
While he's still not a fluent reader (it will take lots of time to get there), he had much better phrasing today and only needed a few prompts to make it through his new poem. As I listened, I felt my eyes tearing up. To see this young man's confidence grow as a reader is truly an aMAYzing process to witness. I feel so happy to know that this little bit of time with Kate in his day is making such a difference to him as a learner on so many levels. He is starting to see that there is a whole village of adults at our school who are in his corner.
After listening to him read on Wednesday, I told him about our #teacherpc2019 challenge and explained that I was very proud of him and that the progress he's making in such a short time is truly #aMAYzing. I asked his permission to share this on social media. He smiled shyly and said, "Okay." I decided to give him privacy by adding a sticker to protect his identity. Just know that the effort our struggling learners put in on a daily basis to try to keep up with their peers in the face of immense learning challenges is #aMAYzing.
I hope that all of us who work with children in a school setting will be mindful of the incredible courage it takes for our struggling learners to show up every day in our classrooms, knowing they are behind and constantly having that knowledge in their face. We must do everything we can to see and recognize their efforts, no matter how small. We must try our best to offer them encouragement along the way because that's what they deserve, and that's what we ourselves would want. Don't forget, my friends: a little means a LOT.