Sunday, October 17, 2010
There are many things we do as a class throughout the day but the most satisfying to me is skills block. This is where the students get their backbone in reading. We work on decoding, word attack, automaticity, encoding among many others. I guess this is so important to me because when I was growing up I struggled terribly as a reader. It took me forever to sound out words which slowed my fluency which also kept me from comprehending accurately. I would slouch in my seat praying that the teacher would not call on me to read aloud. My friends were so much further ahead of me in reading that I would never be in the same classes because I would have to go for remedial help. I felt stupid plain and simple. It wasn’t until my seventh grade year that my parents finally found a reading program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook that saved my educational life. They taught me how to hear myself when I read and to listen to the sounds of the words. I remember recording my voice on a tape recorder as I read through my Social Studies homework. I would play it over and over again.
Unfortunately reading was not my only shortfall when it came to book smarts. I also had trouble with math. No matter how hard I tried it just didn’t make sense. Over the years I learned to compensate and actually became very successful in business. I worked hard for what I accomplished but nothing ever came easy. As the years passed I eventually became a mom to an amazing little girl. I remember thinking to myself when she was born “Please don’t let her struggle when she gets to school.” At the beginning of her third grade year she began to struggle severely with reading and math. We had her tested and she was diagnosed with severe Dyslexia. I broke down in tears thinking that I failed my daughter. That due to hereditary reasons she was guilty by gene association. Not long after her diagnosis I sat down on the couch with her one night and read the book Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. This book is about a little girl who was ridiculed and picked on and felt stupid because she struggled in reading until a special teacher came along that taught her that she really wasn’t stupid. He taught her that she simply learned differently than most people. As I read the book to my daughter I began to cry. My daughter said “mom, why are you crying?” I said “because this little girl was me growing up.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “you do understand.”
Skills block is my favorite time of the day because I am doing everything I can to keep my students from feeling the way I did growing up. I am bound and determined to do all I can to make my class ravenous readers through and through. Not everyone learns the same way. What a boring world this would be if we did.