Monday, February 9, 2015

Just be authentic...

I am really starting to feel like an old timer in the field of education.  I am a Reading Recovery trained, Literacy Collaborative Coordinator trained teacher and I hold fast to the things that I believe to be true.  I see so many cutesy things in education today, (mostly covered in some form of chevron) and I am beginning to question their value.  I have nothing against chevron.  I am actually a fan.  If you decorate the words of Marie Clay in your chevron, I will be the first one to say how wonderful it is.  :)
The thing that is really worrying me in education is that I think that we are missing the point sometimes in our effort to make things cute and pinterest worthy.  Marie Clay studied children who could read well and the behaviors that they had under control as readers so that she could begin to understand what was missing for our neediest readers.  She knew that they needed something different than the children who were already reading.  She was actually quite brilliant.  It makes sense.  If you are making a cake and it falls every time you try, then you are going to look to someone who makes that perfect cake every time and wonder what they are doing that you are not.  You will take the time to notice and shift what you are doing in order to bake a cake.
In a sense, that's what Marie did.  She took copious notes on what readers did and she began to think about how she could teach the children who were not doing those things to begin to do them.  Out of this work, teachers got a wonderful way to teach that is research based and very effective when done well.  Marie's model of teaching was to teach/model/demonstrate, then prompt, praise and expect.  She taught us to look at running records to know exactly what the children need and then she gave us plain language, that everyone can understand for prompting at various levels of support.
When we are working with children, we need to remember that no matter how tempted we are for the cute and catchy, plain language is something that everyone can understand.  Picture Claire, a 6 year old first grader who is learning to read a slower rate than her peers.  Claire and her family moved in the middle of the year.  Claire had been working with a teacher who told her that readers think about the letters in the words and the meaning of the story when they are trying to figure out tricky words in books.  Now imagine sweet little Claire in her new school.  In her new school, the children are told that when they don't know a word, they need to tryin lion or fish lips.  Poor Claire.  It's like they are speaking a different language.  Now, should Claire have to learn the fabricated cute language?  No.  Claire only needs to know what readers do.  When I ask that question of children, I want them to tell me what real readers do.  They don't tryin lion or fish lip.  They do think about what would make sense and start like the word on the page.  They do look through the whole word to check to see if they are right.
Be careful out there teachers.  Make sure that what you are doing with your students is authentic.  Remember, if it's authentic, who cares if it's covered in chevron.

1 comment:

  1. AMEN! Deb I often worry about loosing the purpose in the cute…TEACHER BEWARE, don't let the cute distract you like the sparkle of cubic zirconium! Look closer for the real deal!