As part of my first year training as a Reading Recovery teacher, I’ve discovered this is the time of year to look at the children we’ve served and move on to the second wave of students. We talked about how important it is to consider many factors in discontinuing students but in our professional reading, I learned something I’d never really thought about in these terms. In Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals, Part I, Marie Clay writes, “Children who successfully complete early literacy interventions like Reading Recovery should operate in reading and writing in ways that put them on track to being silent readers with self-extending processing systems during the next two years at school (p. 52).” During the next two years… That got me thinking.
Letting my students go has been a bit of a heartbreak for me. It’s hard to let go of some of that daily contact and send them back into their classrooms without me, although I know they aren’t actually going anywhere and their classrooms are wonderful places of learning. I found myself worrying and wondering, “Are they really fixed?”
Are any of us ever really fixed? Thanks to a few extra runs and a few less brownies, I’ve gotten back to my pre-holiday eating habits. But of course, I picked back up some bad habits for a few weeks over the holidays. I didn’t eat like I know I should and I certainly didn’t exercise much more than my TV remote arm. My middle school daughter’s closet is clean and organized now, thanks to a couple of weeks at home where I could oversee and monitor how many things actually got organized rather than stuffed behind something. I’m sure in a few weeks her closet will again be worthy of disaster-area designation. We aren’t ever really fixed. We all pick up a few bad habits for short periods of time and then get back on track. We all need a reminder to keep on keeping on.
Just as it is for our students, they still need us to support them not just in the year we have them but in the years to come. They need us to monitor their good habits and remind them to leave those bad habits alone. Just as Clay discusses, our struggling readers need the time to put it all together to have a self-extending system. Our job is to do all we can to prepare each child to succeed and know that our most struggling readers may need 1-2 years to put it all together independently.