Sunday, February 2, 2014

Where Are The Super Readers?

“Plato said, ‘What is honored in a country will be cultivated there.’ Teachers who honor literacy provide special spaces and material in their classrooms to promote literacy development as an integral part of the total school curriculum”Morrow, 1989
When a young student enters a classroom, are they expected to become a successful reader? I have seen and heard of many teachers that do not expect this of all of their students. I have been in classrooms where teachers will ask their “readers” to come to the front of the classroom and pick out a book to read to a classmate who is “not yet reading”. One may wonder whether that teacher would be struck by those words if he or she was able to look in from the outside? The teacher may have made this statement because their opinion of what a “reader” is not developmentally appropriate. In contrast, this teacher should be labeling all of his or her students as readers and be looking at where their students fall on a developmental continuum of reading.

The question again is, how many teachers have you met that question our students abilities to read? Many teachers believe that if a kindergartner does not leave their classroom reading book upon book then they are destined to live life as a struggling reader. This is not only a faulty assumption, but it damages the student’s future for becoming fluent readers. These expectations leave students feeling that they are not normal. Their teacher’s actions scream that they are not “readers” and this causing the student to feel that they will never catch up. Not only do a teacher’s expectations affect the student, but also the parent. Parents generally take on the teacher’s expectations of what their child should be accomplishing at a certain age. This leaves unreasonable expectations on the student at school and at home. Educators need to take into consideration that if a child‘s first exposure to reading is their kindergarten classroom, they will just be entering the emergent reading stage. This is unlike some students that will have already been exposed and are developed emergent readers. Teachers need to be equipped and ready to be able to help guide all of these students at each of their own paces. If a teacher expects all students to develop reading fluency during kindergarten they will be taking students that are not ‘reading ready’ and placing unreasonable expectations on them. The NAEYC and IRA warn against this. 
“The readiness perspective implies that until children reach a certain stage of maturity all exposure to reading and writing, except perhaps being read stories, is a waste of time or even potentially harmful (1998).” 
What types of expectations should teachers and parents have for our young readers that are appropriate, positive, and beneficial?