Thursday, June 11, 2009

Frustrating Situation

As a reading tutor, I have encountered various ranges of reading levels and abilities. However, recently I was faced with one of the most frustrating experiences. I was tutoring a student who will be entering 3rd grade in the fall. She is one of the most adorable kids I have ever worked with!!! She smiles from ear to ear, is full of energy, and appears to get great pleasure from reading. In conducting my assessments of her reading ability, I had her read books that were of different levels. She did a great job with all of the books, reading with great expression, pace, and self correcting. My conclusion was that she is a great reader, but could work more with incorporating multiple cueing systems when decoding a word. So, why is this situation frustrating?

The child’s teacher, during the recently completed academic year, suggested that she be retained due to a deficiency with reading. WHAT???!!!!?? This did not register with me because I couldn’t see how a child who reads so well could be told that she did not know how to read. I also learned that she was even recommended by her teacher for Special Ed. Services….how could this be??! The questions that I have asked myself over and over again are what did the teacher see that I didn’t? What other factors could be affecting her very distinct performances with me and with her former teacher? Could the classroom environment, instability at home, disinterest in the texts being read in class have played a role in her supposedly poor reading ability? As I prepare for student teaching, this situation has really opened my eyes to the dilemma that teachers face. There is no one observation or assessment that should be the determining factor for labeling students as under-performing. I am not trying to undermine the knowledge of her teacher, who obviously has more experience in the classroom than I do. I am, however, concerned with the effect that a failure to assess the whole circumstance has on the child. What if she had actually been retained but really shouldn’t have been? What effect would that have on her socially/emotionally/academically?? These are some of the questions that are plaguing my mind right now. All I know is that children like this one need to be able to trust that the teacher is advocating for their success and well being at all times. If this is what her teacher was really doing….KUDOS to him/her! However, if not, this shows that there is still more work to be done. This experience has pushed me to critically analyze what I can do to make sure that I am assessing the WHOLE child and keeping in mind the various external and internal forces that may be impeding a student’s success at reading?? How do I make sure I am advocating for students and seeing the best in them at all times?


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog! (

    To answer your questions, I LOVE to buy books like The Daily Five and always enjoy learning about new ways to teach/think about teaching. A few particularly good books I have read are:
    Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller and Growing Readers by Kathy Collins for teaching reading and anything by Lucy Calkins for teaching writing. They are geared more towards reading/writing workshop classrooms (which mine is not because we have an adopted curriculum) but the ideas are great and they are very inspiring. You can pull little ideas from them.
    I definitely buy more picture books than professional development books, but I mostly buy them through Scholastic Book Clubs so they are cheaper and I use bonus point and coupons a lot.

    I also use to trade books and that saves a LOT of money. Check it out.

  2. KT,

    Thanks so much for the suggestions!! I will definitely check them out. I have been nervous to buy picture books,especially since I have NO CLUE what grade level I will end up in for my first real job! I would hate to have all books for K-2 and then I end up in a 5th grade class!! I'm sure I'll figure it all out as time passes....thanks for the tips!!!