Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Err in Favor of the Child
When I was in Reading Recovery training, I was always so stressed about whether or not I was properly analyzing the running records. I knew that it was very important to get it right so that I could properly discern the strengths and needs of the child. I wanted my instruction to be just what the child needed.
One day, my teacher leader came to visit me. She was such a kind, understanding, supportive teacher leader. I told her how stressed I was and she told me with no hesitation that when I was in doubt, I should always err in favor of the child. I had never heard that before and it made perfect sense.
This is very different than giving the child more credit than is due. We should always make sure that children are solid in their understandings, but when in doubt about coding or analyzing a running record, err in favor of the child.
This concept came from Marie Clay. Marie studied children who read well to understand what reading behaviors children should have under control. She used this research to help millions (maybe even billions) of reading teachers understand reading strategies. So many of the strategies are "in the head behaviors". We can not know for sure what they are thinking, but most of the time, based on their reading behaviors, we can tell which strategies they are using. But if not, err in favor of the child.
Remember that we take many running records on our students. If we are mistaken when we give a child the benefit of the doubt, it will show up on the other running records as we code and analyze their reading and behaviors.
I love Marie Clay for so many reasons. The BEST thing about her is that she always put the child first. She always believed that every child could read and when in doubt, she would always err in favor of the child.