Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dear "Regular" Teachers






Dear “Regular” Teachers,

Every once in a while, there is some confusion as to what goes on in a Read 180 or Intervention classroom.  So, let me start with the basics and explain what we do in our classroom.

We work.  We spend hours trying to fill in the gaps.  I carefully introduce new concepts, while spiraling back to reintroduce a skill that they weren’t ready for in previous years.  I carefully add layer after layer of instruction, while juggling small group rotations.  In our spare time, I read to them, or they read independently, or practice their basic math facts on the computer.  The only video they will see will be directly correlated to the curriculum.  Free time is non-existent in my classroom.  My kids work harder than any other group of students on campus - bell to bell, and beyond.  What comes easily to the “regular” kids can be difficult and exhausting for my kids.

If you are fortunate enough to have my kids in another class, or the next grade level, there are few things you should remember.  Most of my kids will grow three to four grade levels in my class, but in most cases they are still “far below” grade level and will need your support to continue growing.  Don’t give them a grade level textbook, tell them to read it independently and answer the questions at the end of the chapter, because they will not be able to do it.  Chunk the text, give them sticky notes to write questions on, use oral cloze and read it to them,  give them a graphic organizer to take notes on, give them sentence frames to start their answers with, and I guarantee their questions, answers, insights, and comments will amaze you.  They can be your favorite students if you work with them.

And let me tell you about their writing skills because even though they worked hard in my class, they still need help.  Most of my kids come to me struggling to put together a complete sentence, much less an essay.  That is one of the reasons they come to me, and not you.  We write every day.  Every answer is a complete sentence or it is not accepted.  This means that I hand back papers all the time.  This means that half of my class stays in during lunch and rewrites their homework.  This means that I walk the room tapping papers and reminding them that sentences start with capitals.  This means that first semester, it might take my kids a week to write a “perfect paragraph,” and weeks to write an essay.  This means that they need structured graphic organizers, models of what you expect, lists of transition words, and patience. This means that they know what a “real sixth grade essay looks like,” and desperately want their essays to look like one, but they are not there yet.  This means that when they get to your class you should look at those sentences that consistently start with capitals, those painfully worded complete sentences, the barely basic essays, and praise them for their effort and their writing.  Then you work with them to improve it, because it might be less than perfect, but they wrote their hearts out for you, and turned in an essay.

Finally, if you are blessed enough to have my students in the next grade level, or in another class, remember that they are funny, bright, active, and in their own way,  eager to please.  They might not be GATE, but they want so badly to do well, to experience success like “regular kids.”  You need to help them.  Remember sometimes they make impulsive choices, they get frustrated, and they breakdown and have a bad day.  School has not been fun for them, or they would not be with me.  I realize that they can be challenging; I have them for four straight periods, all by myself, without a break.

So, before you judge me or my kids, try to remember where they are coming from, how far they have come, and how far they can go with your help.

Thank you,

Your Humble Intervention Teacher


5 comments:

  1. Oh My Sweet Buddy, Susan,
    You put your whole heart into those words. I can only guess what kind of week you have had or what the catalyst for this post might have been.
    Although we work in different districts, I APPRECIATE all of the hard work and ceaseless energy and millions of hours you put into helping your students succeed.
    And I know that the students and their families appreciate it too.
    With warmest wishes and big hugs to a wonderful teacher...

    Kim
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

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  2. Susan,
    Although I've been teaching for fifteen years, this is my first year teaching Read 180, and like you I do so in a self-contained classroom. One of my biggest frustrations so far this year has been the snide comments from other teachers about what a "gravy" job I have and how my students (and I) don't really do anything all day. Really? From people who have never once stepped into my classroom? Really? Yes, really. I want you to know, though, how thankful I am that I've found your blog. Through this blog you have been a wonderful guide, helping me take this new-to-me program and make it work successfully for my students. You've helped keep me from being overwhelmed with it all, and shown me how to have a cohesive class. So thank you; you are a blessing.

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  3. Well said! It truly does take a village and your students are so lucky to have you, Susan. :)

    Jennifer
    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

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  4. My favorite years of my 26 year career have been my 5 years in READ 180. And I learned that when "regular" teachers make those snide remarks, to smile and simply respond, "Have a nice day."

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  5. I am totally sharing this ... WoW! Kim sent me and she's right ... you are an amazing child advocate!

    Barbara

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