A couple weeks ago, as I was meeting with one of my first grade classes, I was encouraging my students to keep moving forward on their reading for Accelerated Reader. They had about a month left in the quarter to work toward their goal. And I told them that this quarter's party is a great one to go to because - if the weather is good - we go outside to play and eat ice cream. It's a great time.
In the back of the room, leaning against the wall, was a round-faced boy. His bottom lip protruded and his eyes were sad. "I'm never going to make it to the party."
"Yes, you will. You can do it."
"No, I can't. I'm not a good reader."
Oh, my heart broke. He's right. He's not a great reader. It's taking him longer than some of his peers for this reading thing to "click." I don't know what sort of help he gets at home. But I do know that if he believes it is impossible, it will be.
I stopped the whole class and gave him a pep talk. I told him that the assessment he took told us what books were the best fit for his reading right now. These were books that he could read and understand. And I told him that if he read them carefully, a couple of times, and if he took his time on the quiz, he would be able to pass the quiz and earn the points. I told him if he worked with his teacher and practiced at home, he could surprise himself. His demeanor improved, but I have still been worried about him. I'm not sure he is motivated enough - if he believes enough, if there are enough supports in place for him to actually make his goal. And, unfortunately, his continued struggles could very well set him up to always define himself as a poor reader.