I was immediately drawn to an article with the title, "Students show progress with new reading." Natch, I had to click and read more because who wouldn't want the answer to the age old question of "how the hell can I better serve my students?" Plus, the article was about advancements in education from my home state of CT - so I had to give a shout out.
Although, after reading the article, what I shouted out was, "Well DUH!" To which many people replied with shushing and dirty looks.
Basically, what I can get from the article is that this school is showing significant gains in student reading as a result of a 45-minute daily "RX" period. Instruction during this "RX" period is individualized, based on student needs and monitored every two weeks so that the prescription stays up to date. If a child needs help decoding, they get help decoding until they show improvement. If a child needs help with comprehension skills, they get help with those specific comprehension skills until they show improvement. Granted, it sounds as if this reading program uses a set of potentially prescriptive paths for each child once they are "diagnosed" which is an idea I don't love because it makes the process of learning how to read look far too...scientific. So perhaps this RX business isn't the solution to the problem of illiteracy, but still, the idea behind it seems to be that instruction is tailored to the needs of individual children and who can argue with that premise?
The article then makes the
And I'm all, "Wait, where's the innovation?"
Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming the teachers in this scenario AT ALL. I think it's great that they are able to tailor their instruction to the needs of each child rather than have someone tell them that if they stand on one foot and hop in place thirty times, their students will learn how to read. Guar-an-teed! Or your money back!
Now maybe this RX program thingy is a horribly scripted reading program and I'm just not getting that from the article. Because from where I'm standing, it sounds like teachers were finally given the green light to do what they know is best for their students. The article wasn't exactly clear on this point and after a quick Google search, all I was able to find was a bunch of links to places that help people understand their actual medical prescriptions. You know, which is important TOO just...
WHERE IS THE INNOVATION IN ALL THIS? Where is the tidbit that I can take away and pass along to my Super Colleagues. Because although this is true, and although I believe whole heartedly that there doesn't exist a one-sized-fits-all approach to teaching anything that will actually teach all children, the ability to do what we think is best for our children isn't always an option. You see, with all the scripted curriculums, excessive paperwork and obsession with testing, doing what we think is right for our children becomes harder if not downright impossible.
But perhaps, to those in the media, or really anyone outside the classroom who has been bombarded with images of idiotic teachers who deserve the blame for every aspect of the educational system that is currently in crisis, the idea of simply letting a teacher do her job IS innovative.