Reading over the summer has been true indulgence. I am so busy, so involved in thought, the day just slips by around me. Nothing is visible in terms of my work. When my husband walks in around 6pm, nothing has changed. I’m still sitting at the table, books piled around me intently working on my laptop. Sigh, yes I feel a tad guilty. What did I do today? Lots I think. Reading and thinking, to a large extent is not visible and seemingly not accountable. This is one reason I am pushed to write. Making my work accountable: making it real.
My recent read What Readers Really Do by Vicky Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse #wrrdchat led me to re examine Peter Johnston’s classic Choice Words. A huge aha from these books has been the power of very small words.
Yet… One of the key points I took away from WRRD was the understanding that proficient readers are capable of tolerating confusion in narratives because they trust they will understand – eventually. They know that the writer isn’t giving it all away in the beginning; the writer has a plan in mind. While readers may not understand the plan at first, they trust they will. They just don’t understand YET. Knowing and trusting that things will make sense in the future drives us on in our stories.
Students and teachers must also learn to tolerate confusion in the learning process. It is tricky, messy work and we must push on, trusting that we will “get it” just not yet. It is the nature of learning. The student who struggles has as Johnston put “a history of telling himself stories about being a failure” and is unlikely to face a new assignment with hope. But the student with the personal narrative of “I haven’t gotten there yet,” sees learning as a progression. As teachers we need foster the re-writing of our students’ learning narratives to include a “retelling” by the student that imagines success. We may not be there yet, but we have faith that we will be in the future. This drives us forward in our learning.
Gotta go, only three more weeks before students enter my classroom and the FedEx truck just dropped off Donalyn Millers’ The Book Whisperer and Word Nerds by Leslie Montgomery, Margo Holmes Smith and Brenda Overturf! I’m not quite ready, yet.