It Must Be Learned

This year is a bit different for me as a middle school literacy coach. I’m fortunate to work side by side with teachers as we currently help students recognize the importance of expository writing and how to go beyond the text when reading. Meeting with small groups to work at their instructional level is another highlight of my life in the middle school. But at 10:45 each day, I make a mental shift, and walk next door to the elementary school to work with two first grade students who are learning how to read. The process is incredible and overwhelming as I make my way through Reading Recovery training.

Did you know that attending to print from left to right when reading English is not instinctual, nor is it programmed in the brain? It must be learned (Clay, 2005). These little friends are just figuring it out. They are putting together the ideas that letters make up words. They are noticing the pictures and checking to see if what they said matches the text on the pages. Observation is a vital part of my lessons and has helped me to discern what these young students control and what is still unknown. Carefully watching, taking notes, and really listening helps me to know what to include in my next lessons. Never before in my teaching career have I been so in tune to such small details. Honestly, it’s enlightening. I’m once again learning where reading starts and appreciate this opportunity to go back to the beginning.

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