Mentally I slammed my head into the table. In reality I tried my best to prompt him to use strategies to read the word and then back away, hoping he'll get it on his own. I scribbled down observations, more to keep me from giving him the word than for the notes' actual worth.
By the end of the group all 5 of us were done. They left the table frustrated with their reading, and I left frustrated with my teaching. We might as well have all had a wrestling match with no winner.
It's May. Testing season has begun. My readers are teetering on the benchmark- we've got to push these last few weeks to make it. We're one level away- reading 15s when all we need is to read 16s. We're so close- all the steady work we've put in throughout the year is coming down to these last few weeks.
Reflecting on my frustration from yesterday I realized it came from me- the lesson blew up because I wasn't teaching the reader- I was teaching the test. Instead of looking at what my readers need I was thinking about everything we have to do to make it to benchmark. It came down to that feeling at the end of a cross country race in the rain when you just put your head down and go with whatever you have left in you, no matter how much it hurts.
Except that, teaching reading isn't like running. We don't get to come to the end goal and then stop. We might have a first grade goal, but then they have to carry their reading over the summer and into second grade, where their reading will continue to climb upward.
I want them to get to the 16 benchmark because it's my goal. And it's a great goal to keep us reading with our readers everyday and pushing them like they should be pushed- except when meeting the goal gets in the way of teaching that specific reader in front of us. The one who may not be ready for 16s, but is right there- a firm 14- and with support and scaffolding, proper teaching and patience- will continue to move up to 16s and beyond, even if it's not in the three week window we have left.
I feel deflated thinking about the ones who might not make it- we've been on track all year to make this goal. But when I think about the readers they are every day- all the good things they typically do as readers, along with their love of reading- and then compare it to the failed guided reading lesson yesterday, I shutter. In forgetting to teach the reader I gave them my stress- handed them books they weren't ready for- and then allowed myself to show my frustration when they struggled through simple words- and the more stressed the group became, the more we all struggled.
I'm not giving up on meeting the goal- I'm determine we'll get there in 3 weeks- but I am determined that today I'll teach the readers in front of me- I'll give them the support they need to be strong, independent readers, and not just readers who can pass a test.