Friday, March 30, 2012

Lessons in Scaffolding

 Day 30 SOL

Being trained in Reading Recovery I have heard the word scaffolding countless times. Part of the beauty of the program is how scaffolding is built into all of the procedures. Of course I believe in scaffolding students and my own learning. Who wouldn’t want to be on the cutting edge of their own personal learning? Lucky for me one student has been teaching me big lessons in scaffolding and trust.

From the first time I started reading with him in a small group I knew that together we were setting out on a challenge, not because of ability rather I suspected from mindset. His overused phrase, “I can’t.” His most overused word, “No!” 

Once my reading coach, who is also my teacher leader, came to observe the small group he was somewhat a part of. He stood at the doorway, not sure he was going to participate. After inviting him in once, we both ignored him and went on with the lesson; he eased his way in and really wanted to be a part of the group but on his own terms. Hey, who among us doesn’t prefer things on our own terms? At the end of the lesson she looked at me and said, “Reading Recovery?” We both knew at that point that he would be better served one on one.

Now I should be clear, this little guy is really used to things on his own terms. Once in a conference with his dad, all of his teachers, and the principal, he refused to follow any direction or request. He clearly illustrated in the conference why the teachers were worried and yes, let’s be honest, frustrated. It is frustrating to see capability that is not being used. He was often choosing not to participate in class.  Was it fear, was it a language barrier, was it simply a behavior issue or was he really not equipped to participate?  The truth is, the why didn't matter as much as the how we were going to turn it around.  

There is pressure in RR to accelerate students, that is the goal. I was nervous as he entered into RR but totally endeared to him and looking forward to the challenge of getting into his mind and trying to figure out what was holding him back.

At first, true to RR, our lessons only revolved around what he knew. We built on this quickly and made his known solid and obvious to him.  We wrote about sharks every day. Writing is his least favorite thing, but talking about sharks is his favorite. I read shark books to him and we found some that he could read independently. He then wrote his own shark book. Small steps.

As he moved into lessons his teacher and I started to see a slight change.  Small steps.
And these steps of progress have continued.
We have gone from sharing the reading of the new book, to him taking total charge.  Bigger steps.  
We have gone from him refusing to write, to him writing two sentences. Small steps.  We have gone from him saying "no" to the running record book to him understanding that it is part of his lesson. Must have step! Yesterday he read to the Kindergarten class! Exciting step.  Today he read to HIS class.  Even more exciting step!
He is still in charge of picking his new book. Believe me if I don’t let him choose there will be no reading!  He has to have ownership.  

Goodbye routines, hello what is best for this child. Hello teacher willing to compromise and learn to patiently build.  Yes, he has taught me, step by step.  

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