I read, Mrs. Hatcher, I read.
He knows how to get to me, how to pierce my soul. I hand the sticker to him and say,
Bud, I think you’ve got to get on your knees to be able to see the words.
He stands up on the chair, braces his hands on the desk and gets down, readied for the minute timing. I brace myself. I know it’s only one minute, but I mentally calculate how many more of these I will deliver to students before the end of my teaching season. It is a disturbing number. He, of course is using only one strategy because the words are tightly packed on the page, like a chapter book. He reverts to tracking the text for fear of getting lost in the sea of text. A minute is blessedly over. I sigh, knowing that I will do twenty-eight more of these before the day is over. He says,
Mrs. Hatcher where were you?
I had meetings, Bud, you know that I miss your group when I don’t see you…right?
Our meetings involve talking about all the one minute timings. And it was a hard week talking about the dots on the line. Buddy looks up with a smile,
I keeped reading, Mrs. Hatcher, I keeped on.
Every week, I have to spend an entire day giving an assessment that lasts one minute. It is different than a running record, given with a book at their instructional reading level. Running records inform my instruction. I can tell whether my students are using their strategies that I am teaching. The one minute timing creates anxiety, at least in my heart. I will go to my grave saying that it is not designed for the emerging reader. Some of that may be changing for us next year…I’m crossing my fingers and toes.
I treasure this little one, who leaves everyday for a house without a mom. He is ‘keeping on with his reading’ despite the fact that he shares a small bedroom with two brothers and cousins. He takes pride in his little stack of books that get read over and over. He has even found his special spot to keep his books safe. I know that it will take years for him to develop into a reader and a writer of note (English is not his first language). Will we be patient with him in our system? It is longer than a minute. I wake up about this. I pray we will because he is so worth that effort.