Friday, April 29, 2016

Maintain. Hope. Read.

I glanced at his face and wondered what this means for him 10 or 15 years from now. Leg shaking. Face pensive with a half smile. He's trying, but there's not much he can do. All the while, I try to encourage him, affirm him when he reads a word that he actually recognizes, but it feels artificial. Inside I'm still worried for him. Worried that he will be one of the ones--the ones who end up on the disassembly [school-to-prison pipe]line. He's in third grade and I'm wondering this. Thinking this. Some part of me is ashamed for thinking this, but inside I'm bawling because he thinks he can't read much of this state-mandated test that is sitting before him.

"Every child can read. If they can read their name or K-Mart or McDonald's, they can read!" That comment from an educator who attended a coaching institute with me a few weeks ago pops into my mind! Hope. Maintain hope. Maintain hope for his future. Maintain hope for his current and future teachers, that someone gets it to click for him. Maintain hope that the work that his current teacher has done with him to get him to the point of being able to recognize more sight words this year than he ever, will keep the momentum going with him. He needs this. Learning to read and building his confidence to get him there is life or death for him. Sound extreme? It is. That's the stance we have to take with our kids because if we don't...what's next?

And still I have to forget about how this time spent taking this test is wasting crucial time that could be spent teaching him more. I want to toss out this test that sits in front of him and give him some magnetic letters to mix and fix. Show him games that will make him forget that he's learning, but that move him forward. Hope. Remembering that there is more to teach him, more that he can learn so that he gets life, not death.


  1. I got chills reading your post. I'll be honest--I'm not a teacher and I live in an affluent area and my kids go to a private school where most kids are reading well when they enter in Kindergarten. I forget that I live in a Lucky Bubble sometimes, and that there is a world of kids outside of our family's school that need so much help. I'm so glad there are people like you and this boy's main teacher, but hopefully as a wider community we can come together and make bigger changes so he takes fewer tests, gets help earlier, and for sure stays out of prison. Thank you for writing this--I needed to read this real story.

  2. >Learning to read and building his confidence to get him there is life or death for him. <

    >Remembering that there is more to teach him, more that he can learn so that he gets life, not death.<

    What powerful sentences and a powerful slice. Sometimes, we all need that tap on the shoulder and reminder that all is not well and that we need to keep pushing to do better.

  3. All teachers have these same fears and worries. That means you care. He's lucky to have you looking out for him!

  4. some really hard truths here. Most of my students live in this world, as well. Keep fighting the good fight!