By Lily Vartanian – Now that the “Live to Dream” Hartman Center program has ended, I enlisted the help of my fellow Wade Coaches to reflect on some of the things we learned both individually as teachers and as a group this summer.
Personally, I feel as though I have grown in many ways this summer. I felt more equipped to handle a classroom, especially when approaching both learning and behavior issues, after a semester of student teaching. In my previous experience working at the Hartman Center, I had completed my final semester and took the Reading Three course in the fall of 2014, but had not yet student taught. Using what I learned in student teaching this summer at the Hartman center made my classroom a lot more efficient and differentiated than the previous semester.
Additionally, this summer taught me a lot about young readers. I was a student teacher in fifth grade, and my previous Hartman classroom had fourth graders, so the last time I had truly worked with beginning readers was in the Fall of 2013 during my first Reading course at Marquette. This was something that was an adjustment for me, as I had to review the processes of Core and Key words and teaching blending and segmenting, in addition to putting myself in the mindset of teaching second and third graders rather than fourth and fifth graders. I am grateful for the opportunity, however, as I will be teaching third graders this fall!
Wade Coach Julia Fornetti observed the confidence in both her students as well as the Wade Readers overall within the six week program. Most of our Wade Readers made gains in reading and confidence, and none regressed in their learning which was huge for some of these struggling readers. As summer is a time when students lose information and skills gained during the school year, this was a great accomplishment. As Ms. Fornetti observed and noted, “This summer really showed that everyone has an innate desire to be able to read fluently. When we provide students with the proper learning environment paired with the right amount of support, they begin to see themselves as the readers they’ve been striving for without realizing it.”
Wade Coach Emily Wulfkuhle had similar notions regarding her learners. She found that, “Kids are excited about reading if they have a mentor that stresses the importance of reading, and praises even the smallest reading victories, which may be great accomplishments to the reader themselves.” Ms. Wulfkuhle, when reflecting on herself as a learner, found that she knew more about reading interventions than she gave herself credit for and became more confident using RTI (Response to Intervention).
Overall, the Wade Coaches did an excellent job supporting each other as well as their Wade Readers this summer. We drew on our students’ abilities as well as the data to help drive our instruction, while focusing on the areas of need for each Wade Reader. Additionally, our experiences gained during our student teaching semesters exposed each of us to a wide variety of instructional and behavioral strategies we could implement this summer.
The summer has gone so quickly, and I am sad to say that my time as a Wade Coach has come to an end! I am grateful and thankful for not only the opportunity to have been a Wade Coach this summer, but also for the chance to share my ideas, experiences, and students’ progress as a summer blogger. I am off to begin my first year teaching third grade, with the new school year just around the corner!