First, do no harm! (Hippocratic Oath)
Second, do not leave children back! (“There is no evidence, therefore, that holdovers make academic progress, although there is evidence that holdovers demonstrate greater social and emotional difficulties.” New York City Board of Education Resolution 1991)
Third, do not refer English Language Learners to special education, because you cannot speak their language. (“Research shows that ELLs in special education with learning disabilities demonstrate lower verbal and full-scale IQ scores after placement in special education than in their initial evaluations.” Artiles and Ortiz, English Language Learners with Special Education Needs, 2002.)
Fourth, do not expect the impossible! While it would be nice if children were toilet trained by age one and could write the Great American Novel in kindergarten, most children cannot do that. Look at Piaget’s work and the world around you to get a handle on what children can and cannot do at different ages. When we force them to do things too early, we break their little spirits, and they develop an alphabet soup of syndromes and malaises. It takes all the King’s OTs, PTs, PsyD’s, Ph.D.’s, M.D.’s, and a variety of tutors and specialists to put them back together again.
Fifth, DO TEACH! Mozart had teachers; so did Serena Williams and Michelangelo. Why do we ask first graders to teach themselves to read and write? Even Santa closely oversees his workshop. If those elves were left to work “collaboratively” and “independently” two thirds of the time, all the while sitting on a rug, we would just get coal in our stockings.
Sixth, do attend an Everyone Reading event. Everyone Reading cannot create master teachers, but we can give them the techniques they need to teach basic reading skills explicitly and directly. We do guarantee that all participants leave our workshops with strategies and materials to take action the very next day.
The 46th Everyone Reading Conference on Dyslexia and Related Learning Disabilities, March 4 and 5, 2019 at the CUNY Graduate Center, will have sessions on neuroscience, social emotional learning, executive function, assistive technology, advocacy, and best teaching practices for all ages and grade levels. Check it out. I resolve to have the full program in my next email.