I look at him…


slice button this marchI look at him, those melty eyes.  The desktop is at his chin.  I’ve got to get another desk, to assess, to measure his progress.  He pulls his book pouch up, brings his sticker chart out.

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.


About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

12 responses »

  1. Your thoughtfulness about your teaching practice shines through as does your sensitivity toward your little student. I too wonder when our system will change to one that accounts for our children’s needs, anxieties, strengths in healthy ways 🙂

  2. Your post brings me to tears. I hate those assessments that we do to prove progress or prove teaching that do not inform or guide our teaching and students’ learning. While I am a BIG fan of assessment guided instruction, I too dislike testing for the sake of maintaining records that sit in cyberspace or on charts on administrators’ bookshelves.

  3. I hope he keeps reading. It sounds like you have been instrumental in developing a love of books in him. And I, too believe that assessment informs instructional but we have gotten carried away with assessment.

  4. Your words are my thoughts. ” It is a disturbing number.” “A minute is blessedly over.” “I wake up about this.'” I, too, am crossing my fingers and toes for future change. Thanks for this insight – your teacher’s heart shines through.

  5. Your knowledge of how Bud lives and of his special spot for books speaks volumes of your teaching. It will take much more time but it seems he is soaking up everything you give and wanting more (where were you?). I have my fingers and toes crossed for him too!

  6. I ended your post with tears too. Tears for the little ones who must endure those assessments and tears for you sick at heart for putting him through this. You are a shining light in Buddy’s world.

  7. Oh Nancy, what a heartbreaking thing to do. I actually admire you for keeping strong, & getting it done, but focusing on what matters, getting the students to ‘keep their books in a safe place’-loving reading! What a blessing you are to them. I do wonder why the ‘powers that be’ don’t ask teachers like you how to do it. You are the expert; you know! Thanks for a powerful message!

  8. Nancy- Such big truth in this post! And what a sweet little guy! I can’t believe you have to give up a whole day of teaching to do this every single week! Is there any room for negotiation//

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