“The greatest sign of success for a teacher…is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” Maria Montessori
I’m beginning to understand that Learning Support programs don’t need to be strictly focused on the traditional three Rs. It took two creative girls who struggled with decoding to teach me that lesson.
These were “good girls” who followed directions and tried hard, engaging as best as they could in the activities that I planned for them. But, try as they might, not much changed in their abilities to decode or their confidence to do even the simplest of tasks in class.
One day Suzy found a clay illustrated book on the shelf and simply asked, “Can we make a book like this Mrs. K?”
Out went my lesson plans for the next two months as the girls sculpted horses, drew settings, wrote scripts and planned out their story. I think I knew something pretty special was happening when the girls were totally engrossed in typing up their story and were collaborating on what words they wanted to use, where they should put the punctuation and what kind on dialogue should be added that would seem natural. (I caught them debating about whether a baby horse would use the words oh my or not!)
I never could have orchestrated lessons that enriched these students’ learning in this way. Not only were they engaged, they were writing and reading and sharing their work with their peers. I wasn’t guiding their reading, selecting stories with controlled vocabulary, or teaching isolated phonics skills and yet things have changed significantly for these two girls. They are confident, they know they can read and write, and have begun asking for what they need to be successful.
Their creative interests have helped me see how much can be accomplished when I let go of my traditional academic focus and let the students take the lead.
Jann is a learning support teacher in Delta, teaching for ten years in a variety of settings from resource room to grade one to learning support. She has a strong belief in full inclusion of all learners.