This is the time of year when things start to fall apart. Or at least, things feel like they are falling apart. Lots of special education paper work, IEPs, meetings, meetings, and oh, more meetings, not to mention the assessments. Pretty much all we are doing is assessing so there isn't much fun teaching going on. Giving the grade level assessments is always a painful experience on my end because pretty much by definition my students are below grade level. If they weren't below grade level they would be in their general education classroom. So even when I have a child that totally rocks an assessment and I feel like running up and down the halls with glee I sit back and look at the score and realize just how far below the child still is. For the student in question it can be an amazing feat of improvement, but there is something disheartening about realizing that despite lots of hard work a student still isn't where you'd love for them to be.
Yet on Thursday I looked over and noticed that Rock Star and another student were sitting in the library center doing exactly what they are suppose to be doing in the library center- reading books. They were sitting side by side and Rock Star was going through a Goldilocks book, narrating the story for her friend. When she got to the end she asked him if he wanted to hear it again. He said no, so she got up, put the book away, and took down another version of Goldilocks. She settled back down in the chair and once again began telling him the Goldilocks story.
This might sound like your typical kindergarten/first grade classroom center experience. Which is why I felt like screaming with joy and hugging each of them. (I didn't. I very, very quietly got my camera and video taped it so that when this week and next week get me down I can watch it and remember the miracle).
There was a time when Rock Star did not know how to hold a book correctly. Her IEP goal was to be able to look at a picture in a book and comment on it- I mean, to hold a book, open to a page, look at a picture of a dog and say "dog". And when she met that goal we were ecstatic.
And now- here she is "reading" to a friend. Starting a book from the beginning, turning the pages one by one and on each page telling the story- a fluid story- not just commenting on one piece of the picture- but even telling the details that are not reflected in the pictures.
She was using long, run on sentences, correct vocabulary, a clear, loud voice, and was so engaged in the task that she read 3 Goldilocks versions to her friend before the center time was over. Confident, happy, and full of a love of literature, she rocked the center in the very style that makes her my Rock Star. I am fighting back tears just writing about it.
If nothing else I have that from this year. I have the memory of a girl who two years ago did not talk, did not hold a book, did not recognize that pictures held meaning turning into a girl who could tell a full story in sequential order across the pages of a book, over and over again. If I question everything else about this year, if I feel like nothing went right and that it was one long, uphill battle, I will have the moment of watching Rock Star shine.