Andrew, K-3 Lead Literacy Interventionist
Kentwood Public Schools
I have a student (we’ll call him Jay), who had a problem. His problem was that he did not believe in himself. Or more accurately, what he believed about himself was all wrong. Jay came to our reading sessions each day with the attitude: “I can’t do this”. The reason for this is not that Jay was lazy. Rather, Jay had this attitude because he paid too much attention to his mistakes, and not enough to the things he had been doing right. The result was that Jay lacked confidence in himself, and subsequently did not want to try very hard to get better, because he felt there was no use. Jay’s “can’t do it” attitude was reflected in his weekly reading test scores. He was continuously scoring in the same range, with a high number of errors, and little to no growth. What could be done about this? Then I got an idea from Jay’s classroom teacher. Something she does with Jay and the rest of his class is recite mantras about themselves such as, “I am strong”, “I can do difficult things”, “I am proud to be me”, etc. Knowing that Jay was familiar with this already, I decided to incorporate it into his daily reading goals.
I started having him read me the goals each day, and then tell me afterward, “Yes, I can do this.” In addition, I talked to Jay about his test scores. Something I had noticed was that Jay lingered too long on words during these tests and kept trying to get the exact right pronunciation. I told him, “Don’t worry about that. Imagine you’re running a race. If you trip and fall, don’t just lay there. Instead, get right back up and keep running. That’s how I want you to read.” I wasn’t sure how well this would work, but it turned out better than I expected.
For one thing, Jay began to think and talk more positively about himself. His attitude and focus improved during lessons, and he started enjoying the work more. In addition, his test scores began to improve dramatically, and he got so excited to see his progress. And it wasn’t just Jay. I gave the same pep talk to other students who I noticed were struggling. And the results across the board were amazing! Multiple students saw their test scores improve dramatically, and their graphs showed significant growth. It was phenomenal! I never thought that just a little pep talk could go so far! Needless to say, I am so proud of Jay and all the other students who answered the call and took off to new heights. Such amazing growth!