My role as literacy specialist encompasses three main responsibilities. I work with teachers to develop and refine curriculum and instruction, conduct model lessons in classrooms, and work with tier 3 readers in grades K-3. I love everything about my job, but the best part by far is working with tier 3 students. They work hard and will try their best, even if I’ve overshot what I think they can accomplish. I am in awe of them.
On Monday, one of my first grade students had a breakthrough moment. She has been struggling with learning short vowel sounds, so we’ve been practicing them. A lot. The word work portion of our session involved a mixed short vowel sort. She was doing a great job stretching out each sound, then blending them back into the whole word.
Then she came to the word “snug.” She covered up the -ug chunk, read sn, covered up the sn and read -ug. Then, with the confidence of a Hollywood star, she read “snug.” Hurrah! But she wasn’t finished. She turned to the “Awesome Readers…” chart right next to her, pointed to the “Chunk it” strategy, and proceeded to explain to me what she had just done and why it was better than stretching out each sound in the word!
To say that I was thrilled is an understatement. These kind of spontaneous metacognitive moments don’t happen every day. I praised her for using the strategy and the chart. I told her how proud I was of her for working so hard and for thinking about the strategies I’ve been teaching her. She was beaming!
I was never a cheerleader, but sometimes I feel like one as I work with my students. Of course I teach and model strategies for decoding and comprehension, but I also encourage students when they’re frustrated. I coach them through the hard parts. I celebrate their successes.
In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, (Random House, 2007), Carol Dweck tells us “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.” In other words, my celebration and acknowledgement of my students’ hard work may be more important than the decoding skills they’re learning. For it is through this acknowledgement and celebration that they begin to see themselves as capable and confident. They begin to see themselves as readers.
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each day during the month of March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.