**This is an edited form of a final reflection paper that I had to write for a one credit hour book study course**
April 30, 2022
This year has been a difficult one. I was floundering in my teaching and beat down by the demands of those who in a roundabout way were telling me that what I was doing was all wrong. I struggled with this for quite some time, but finally found my voice through writing a letter to the department of education in my state, along with some very supportive colleagues. In the midst of that, I had the opportunity to participate in a book study regarding the importance of teaching explicit phonics as well as the crutial skill of listening comprehension. I wrestled with whether or not to participate as I already had way too much on my plate. I took the leap and realized it was just what I needed to solidify my reading and writing theories.
One thing I have deeply missed about being a classroom teacher is reading aloud to children. I thought that I had to let that go to make room for “more important” things. Boy was I wrong. During the book study, I realized that I not only could make time for this in my Interventions, but was obligated to do it. I had a young lady that was a fluent reader who couldn’t tell me a lick of what she read. After incorporating read alouds, deep character analysis discussions, and writing about those discussions, she is soaring! Not only did one of my students take off, but she did so along with me being able to bring back something I loved and missed into my teaching and student learning.
Something else I learned was the need for me to teach systematic phonics in an explicit way. I was NOT doing this and couldn’t understand the why or the how. (Not that I hadn’t been taught, I just wasn’t focusing on the wisdom already shared with me). Upon being assigned 3rd grade phonics students of all things, I struggled! My progress monitoring and the students’ performance on benchmarking was NOT matching up. The classroom teacher that I worked with and I were spinning our wheels constantly. We had many discussions and tried many different things, all in vain. Then one day, she pulled out her old Words Their Way book and handed it to me. “Maybe this might help?” I was overwhelmed. Despite that, we tackled it together and the student growth in just 2 months has floored me. Then I had a huge AHA moment. HEARING and RECORDING SOUNDS in WORDS (Reading Recovery®) aligned perfectly!!! It was awesome and I haven’t looked back. I even asked my boss if I could continue with this next year and I believe she is on board. YAY!
Finally, I was wrestling with a lot of the challenges within the book that I studied and was unable to make sense of some. After my Reading Recovery® PD yesterday (good thing I’m a “what deadline?” person), everything came full circle. I realized that this book is not challenging my Reading Recovery® theories, but my Reading Recovery® theories have challenged what I’ve read. Again, never looking back!
I know that I have much to learn and many ways that I need to grow as a teacher, but one thing I know for certain is that my teaching has seemed to revolutionize and I can’t wait to have a full year of it next year!
The letter written by my colleagues and me -along with many other letters-was heard and acknowledged.
My boss listened and I really appreciate that about her.
It’s a new year and I choose to focus on the good. ❤