Monday, April 4, 2011
When we say things like that, our intentions are good. We know that if our students hate reading, they won’t want to do it, and if they don’t want to do it, they won’t practice and get better. It’s only natural to want to cajole them away from the dark and twisty side.
But I didn’t say that to Andrew when he told me that he doesn’t like to read. Instead, I said, “I get what you mean. Sometimes, when I read, I can’t picture it and I feel like it doesn’t really make any sense. When this happens, I don’t really like to read either.” When Andrew heard this, he softened a bit. He allowed me to come with him into his book and we flipped through the pages and talked about the pictures and how the pictures make the story come alive.
…Or I should say, I talked about that.
Andrew listened and then after careful thought and consideration, he said, “Yeah, but I don’t get how you do that. How do you see pictures in your mind?”
This took me by surprise. On the one hand, I recognized that Andrew hates reading because it doesn’t make sense, but on the other hand, I made the assumption he visualized as he read.
Our notions of what children can and should be able to do cause us to take for granted what students ARE doing. These assumptions can lead our teaching astray. Andrew’s comment was the quick jolt of reality that I needed to shake me awake and remind me to listen actively and adjust my teaching to his needs. Coaxing him from the dark side won’t happen from simply validating his feelings about reading. Now it’s time to give him the tools he needs to understand.