Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration at her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect positively on my week.
1. I started and ended the week with my nose in a book. This is the second week I’ve followed through on my new goal of spending the first hour of my week on Monday morning reading a book (several picture books plus a chapter in Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch, which I’m reading as part of my goal to read more books for grown-ups in 2015). I added an hour of reading time on Friday. (I read the first essay in What Would Lynne Tillman Do? and finished Ava and Pip.) Making time for reading at the beginning of the week seems to make the whole week go better somehow. Perhaps because reading first means I’m not starting the week on overwhelm. It feels very centering to begin and end the week with what is so important to me and makes me feel fully myself.
2. We concluded a Mock Caldecott unit in Children’s Literature–just in time for the announcement of the real Caldecott on Monday. The winner was Mike Curato’s Little Elliot, Big City, and I even managed to blog about the process.
3. I tried a Twitter chat in my Adolescent Literature class. I’ve long wanted to host Twitter chats for my online classes that use Twitter, but somehow it never happens. Last week, I finally did it. We spent an hour on Thursday evening chatting about Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel, Speak, and I had so much fun! It was a small group but conversation was fast and furious. Next week, we’ll be chatting about the first two chapters of Penny Kittle’s Book Love on Thursday at 6 pm MST, so feel free to join us at the #yalitclass hashtag.
4. I assigned Virginia Woolf to my college freshmen, and they grappled with her texts very willingly. I tried to talk myself out of assigning excerpts from Woolf’s “Sketch of the Past” and Mrs Dalloway. Even our advanced English majors struggle with Woolf. What in the world would a group of freshman who aren’t English majors do with her writing? But once I got the idea for this weeklong unit in my head, I couldn’t seem to get rid of it. None of my other ideas seemed nearly as interesting to me. So I decided to go with it. I was so impressed by my students’ willingness to read difficult texts, ability to understand what Woolf was trying to do, and thoughtfulness in making connections.
5. My son started getting help for dyslexia. This has been a long, long time coming. I’ve suspected he was dyslexic for three years, but his teachers assured me he wasn’t. Because he’s an English Language Learner, most of his problems were ascribed to that. He has, by his own admission, worked very hard to hide from his teachers that he struggles to read. And he’s been successful at that. He puts so much energy into hiding his struggles, developing workarounds, and distracting teachers and parents. I don’t really know how he manages that stress on top of all the other stresses he has in a day.
We met his new tutor on Friday, and she is terrific–warm, calm, good-humored, and quick to praise. Exactly the kind of person he can learn from. I am so grateful that she offered to tutor him. She is the owner of the tutoring business and wasn’t taking any new clients, but after hearing about my son’s situation and needs, she decided that she was the best tutor for him–and she clearly is. He was so terrified that I wasn’t sure he’d even be able to stay in the room and get through the session, but he did. And he even showed some beautiful manners, shaking her hand and introducing himself at the beginning of the session and thanking her for helping him and telling her to drive home safely at the end. I was so proud!
Another huge celebration: he admitted that he needed help! The one complaint that all of his teachers have about my son (besides the whole why-can’t-he-stay-in-his-seat thing) is that he won’t accept help, won’t admit when he doesn’t know something, and spends most of his day at school waving them off and saying “I got it!” when he most definitely, in the words of his science teacher, “doesn’t got it.” When Karin asked him yesterday if he wanted help with his reading and spelling, he said, “Yes, I need help” without even hesitating! I had to leave the room to collect myself because just hearing those words made me a little teary.
Several times yesterday he told me that he is going to be able to learn how to read. It sounds to my ears as though he’s still trying to convince himself, but we’re now a lot farther along than we were a few weeks ago when I decided we had to get real about his reading struggles and stop pretending everything is ok. Then all I heard was, “I don’t need to read” and “I can’t learn to read” and “Reading is stupid” and a whole lot of “Leave me alone!” So even the most hesitant-sounding “I’m going to be able to read” is music to my ears!