13 Sep Slice of Life: The Reader Behind the Number
“I don’t know. I just don’t feel like a good reader.”
These words have stayed with me all summer. I had the privilege of reading with a ten-year-old this summer. We began reading together because his family was concerned. He didn’t read for pleasure – ever. His assessments did not show any concerns or areas of focus. His teacher reported he was meeting all standards. Yet he would not read. His parents read to him, went to the library and continually engaged him in reading. Yet he would not read.
After looking through all of his formal assessments, I noted something his mother shared with me. Each year he set a reading goal at school. These goals were saved in his portfolio. Year after year the goal was the same.
I want to be a good reader.
What does he mean? What is a good reader to him?
This piece of data left me wondering. I met with him and asked what this goal meant to him.
I don’t know. I just know I don’t feel like a good reader.
I listened. While formal, diagnostic data said otherwise, he did not feel like a good reader. Students need to be a part of the assessment process. Their goals, feedback and reflections are essential to the process. It is impossible to achieve change without the learner’s engagement.
I understand what you are saying. I am wondering if the goal should be, I want to feel like a good reader.
He paused, looked up and asked, Is that a goal?
Yes. If that is what you want. We can talk about what readers do, say, feel, think and wonder. We can meet a few times a week and discuss what it means to me and to you to be readers. No one can tell you that you are a good reader. I agree with you – you need to feel it yourself.
He paused again. Do you know how to teach that?
I laughed. I have no idea! I feel like a reader and you want to feel like a reader. I think together we can figure it out. Want to give it a try?
This story, and so many others like it, continually remind us to focus on the reader behind the number. When we assess and analyze our data, we cannot overlook the person these numbers and letters represent. They mean nothing if we do not understand the person. This September we will hear this reader’s voice and remember the importance of hearing the reader’s voice in the assessment process.
Clare and Tammy