At the beginning of the year, I began observing Kindergarten Response to Intervention (RTI) groups, knowing that I was to eventually have a group of my own. RTI groups, I learned, are for students who are just below the reading benchmark to give them small group attention and support to boost their reading level. I spent each of these observations hidden in my notebook, writing down every detail that I could possibly cram in during the lessons. I was both terrified and excited to have my own group.
Just a few weeks later, I had my own group. As I looked at the four Kindergartners sitting across the table from me, my heart beat fast. How would I help to instill language in these students – and what if I hurt them more than helped them? I had certainly never done anything like this before.
I followed my notes as best as I could, but what I soon realized is that teaching requires way more than a few scribbled pages of notes. My notes could not help me figure out the correct way to keep Danelis from shouting out every answer before her classmates had a chance, or how to get Jennifer to be more confident in her answers.
As weeks turned into months, my four Kindergartners and I had become something like a family. During our half an hour together, we counted words, retold stories and practiced rhymes and letters. Although the beginning of the year had seemed slow, suddenly our family knew all 26 letters! However, something still felt daunting to me. How would these seemingly small abilities, turn into reading?
Eventually I decided that it was time to try a book, even though I was terrified of how it would go. Each book had some words we had been practicing on the cover. I took a deep breath and handed them out. Before I could even begin introducing the title, Jennifer pointed to one of the words and said “Look! Was!” I let out my breath and smiled. They truly had been soaking in all of our lessons and they were ready to read.
At the beginning of the year, I was so afraid of hindering the learning of these students. Soon I realized that the students had many teachers besides me: their classroom teachers, families, and the world around them, and most importantly themselves. The students had worked hard to soak in all of the information and had desired to learn. It felt amazing to be a part of something as essential as a student acquiring language.