Sometimes we worry that all the extra work we put into reaching ALL our levels in reading isn’t ever going to work. We can tell that what we are doing, how we are teaching, is just not working for these students. . .day in and day out, year after year.
We may be teaching “7th grade” but with 30 students who range from a 3rd grade reading level all the way up to 12th grade reading level.
So many of us struggle to know how to help our low, low readers because we don’t all have a foundation in beginning reading methods. If only we had a different tool for each student or if our class just wasn’t so diverse with so many levels—something—just a solution!
You might be hoping “this” school year will be different. You think maybe it was just this past year that you had so many different levels.
I hate to break it to you but every year we’re going to get diverse learners and sometimes we might even see an increase in struggling readers. The trend isn’t going to change.
Several years ago I had my most diverse classroom to date. I was teaching 4th grade but I had 1st grade all the way to 8th grade reading levels. I had years of experience, teaching from fourth grade to middle school (and even some college), but I wasn’t prepared for such a wide range of all the different needs of my students.
So I tried what I always had done: I planned on weekends. I stayed late. I thought that if I just “planned harder”, I could figure it all out. I thought that if I could find a tool for each of my students, I could grow them. All of them!
But despite all my effort, nothing changed. Except that I was beyond tired every day, and came home exhausted each night with only minor successes here and there. I still had too many fails. And because I deeply cared about my students, I felt like a failure as a teacher.
In 2012, frustrated with my inability to reach all my students’ diverse needs, I left the classroom to learn through the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) as a Master Teacher. And I’m happy to say that after 3 years of field testing, co-teaching, modeling, coaching, and spending hundreds of hours in other teacher’s classrooms, I discovered how to grow my struggling readers.
I’ve been back in the classroom, reaching all my levels, ever since. I love teaching more than ever, and it brings me great joy to see all my students growing, with me feeling at ease, knowing exactly what to do year after year, no matter the student or time of year.
Could you imagine feeling that way?
You’re the teacher that’s determined to make a difference. You became a teacher to change student’s lives. You can do this.