Researching & Responding to our Readers
“…however puzzling and illogical a child’s responses might be, they arise out of some sort of internal logic, which every child develops to make sense of the world and language.” Marie Clay
I snapped that photo a few days ago while I was observing our Reading Recovery® teacher, Dee Marshall, conducting a lesson with one of our grade one students for a group of her Reading Recovery colleagues. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but Dee and our student were actually on the other side of a two way mirror and were not able to see or hear us as we observed and discussed the lesson while it was being taught. In Reading Recovery® parlance, this process is called teaching ‘Behind the Glass’ and it is one of the key components of the ongoing professional learning for these highly skilled reading intervention teachers.
In our district, York Region, we are fortunate to have (and remain committed to) having a Reading Recovery® teacher in each of our schools. It is a big part of our focus on helping our kids become confident, skilled readers and writers and supporting our teachers in their inquiries to further develop their understanding of effective reading instruction and an important part of the continued positive results our district has seen in the area of reading.
How does one little program have such an impact, you may wonder? The strength of the program lies in the simplicity of it. Over a 4 month span of time the teachers work with individual students on a daily basis for lessons that last 30 minutes. Within the lesson the teacher observes the student reading and writing, gathers on the spot assessment information and provides instruction specifically targeting the student’s areas of difficulty; tracking the student progress and providing follow up and support for the parent to put into place at home.
As beneficial as it is for young readers, the Reading Recovery® program is also integral in adding to our professional understanding of how children learn to read. The professional learning structure for the program requires that the Reading Recovery teachers work together to observe their teaching, share their observations and assessments and document this learning for other Reading Recovery® teachers. Lastly, this expertise is shared with our staff, from Kindergarten to grade 8.
As a classroom teacher I made it a regular habit to observe Reading Recovery® lessons to deepen my understanding of how children learn to read and improve my practice as a reading teacher. As a principal observing these lessons continues to be an important part of my learning and leadership.
Though I applied as a young educator; I never served as a Reading Recovery® teacher. I think my principal at the time knew all too well that my high activity level and tendency to move about might not make me the best candidate to perform a role where I would be working in a small room with one student at a time. We are fortunate to have a great teacher in this role at our school and I was delighted to have the chance to sit in and watch her at work.
Yes, there is a lot of attention being paid to the things that may not be going on in our schools these days, but it is important for me to continue document and share the many things that are still going on in our school~ especially the important classroom teaching and learning that forms the foundation for everything we value as a school and community.