I think I’ll just do my job and manage the work flow – more like the work tide — as best I can and stay detached because, I’ve been an interventionist a long time, and I should retire in a year or two. I get that distance and remove and then I start assessing first graders.
Today I brought J. in, unsure whether he would read with me because he was a pre-reader all through kindergarten. He was known more for his behavior demonstrations than his learning. And J. comes from a broken family. Nevertheless, we were talking as I walked him to my classroom.
As he sat down, I introduced him to the dog puppet, “Chili Dog,” who loves to listen to kids read. J. told me he had two cats, that are kittens. And two hamsters but they are dead.
I showed him the list of sight words and he picked out a few, very few he recognized. When I urged him just to try some of the others, he clued me in, “I don’t do words.”
So, I got the level A nonfiction text and introduced it. He “wrote” into the story using the pictures and I asked him to point at the words. He seemed surprised there were only three on the page.
The record went on like that a few pages, kind of rocky, but he was drawn into the park and the playing in the text. When he got to “I can jump,” he stopped after can.
“Wait a minute,” I said. Your name starts with that letter!”
“I don’t know my letter sounds,” he corrected me.
“Um, you can say your name, so you know the sound of that letter…”
He reread the line and said, “I can jump.” I clapped.
Then he read the rest of the book without hesitation. Interesting.
As we chatted while I was returning him to his classroom, I learned that J. really likes to paint. Like loves to paint. “I do, too!” I told him.
“Will there be painting in this room?” he wondered aloud.
“We’ll be drawing a lot!” I countered, and that’s a kind of writing you know. Painters need to know how to draw. Then I pointed out the print of Red, Blue and Yellow and said the picture was by a man named Kandinsky.
“Oh, I’ve heard of him,” said J. I suppressed my incredulity. I just think that, even though he’s starting at kinder level, I can teach this guy to read.
And that’s when I get hooked. It’s the kids. It’s not the program. It’s the kids.