Know Your Students, Grow Your Students

I spent the week at a literacy institute digging deeper into the reading processes for primary students. One big theme was responsive teaching, which aligns to my motto “Know your students, grow your students.” As preparations begin for the new school year, you will be handed data reports on your students. Questions to ponder are, “Does the data collected give me a complete picture of my students? What do I still need to know to help them grow?”

For literacy, especially with early or struggling learners, you must be relentless in your quest in determining what your students know and what they need to know. Beyond a reading level is the why for a student being at that level. Does phonological awareness need to be explored at a greater extent? Maybe it’s phonics. Could be vocabulary. Possibly fluency. Perhaps comprehension. Don’t limit yourself to formal assessments as informal observations give valuable information too. Watch your students in whole group to see who chimes along during shared reading, but is shy during small group activities. On the other hand, a student who stumbles through partner reading can tell you all the facts from the difficult book on airplanes in your classroom library. Students are more than just a score—they are curious, problem solvers, readers, creative, talented, athletic.

Once you have a variety of information, you need to take on the persona of Dr. Gregory House from the television show House. Assemble a team of peers, put all the data together, debate it, and create a plan of action for your students. The proper diagnosis and prescription will improve students’ ability to apply reading processes and grow as learners.

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