The Alternate Schedule

On a Post-it on a desk first thing Monday morning is the alternate schedule. All that we had planned for today will need to be postponed for another day. We will need to make today the best learning opportunity possible. Our idea is to devote time to action research. We will work side by side with a child and then from that research, make a plan for how we will teach them.

After working with several kids across several classes, I get to read with Arabella. Arabella looks worried about her growth as a reader but so do her teachers. I concentrate on making sure my face does not look worried. I know instantly that I will need to share my belief in her with her so that she can continue to grow. She can do so much. With just a little bit of prompting and coaching, she is able to problem solve words. I make sure to shift our attention from word to meaning. “There are funny things in this book, Arabella.” She has never laughed while reading. A small smile curls and I see a dimple that I had not seen before.

I find out that when her sister is sad, Arabella invites her to play with her Barbie house. Her story ends with, “And then when we play we are both happy.” Arabella is tentative and anxious as if she knows she is below benchmark but she does not need to know that or to own that. I make sure she knows how much she can do. And, as I send her back to her seat, I see her whispering to her reading partner. They are laughing together at something. Arabella looks like a different child. Dimples flashing. Face relaxed.

People are worried about Arabella in this class. They are wondering if she needs more help than they can offer. I suggest that Arabella do more work with her partner. The two of them together look powerful. They look like they could accomplish anything.

I want Arabella to forget the benchmark. I want her teachers to forget the benchmark. I want Arabella and her friend to flash dimples as they lean into books and laugh together. She will learn to read then.

And, everyone… breathe.

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