By mid-year, 2nd and 3rd grade readers at John Muir Elementary increased an average of 3 reading levels – equivalent of one year’s growth, and the students in the Team Read 4 program increased an average of 3.63 reading levels, more than a year’s growth! We asked Team Read 4 site coordinator, Aubrey, to share her thoughts on her site’s success this year:
What do you think has played the biggest role in the success of your students at John Muir?
Yes, this is a great question, of which there are quite a few answers! Number one being that Team Read enjoys a ton of support from John Muir Elementary. I’ve worked with programs in the past that did not share as strong of a connection with their host school, and that absence was felt in the energy of the program and in students’ behavior. Sandy, our site leader, works hard to ensure that the kids’ school day teachers are looped in and understand their integral role in our success with reading progression. Additionally, we are enjoying a renewed focus this year on our students’ social-emotional growth. We have made a routine of students and coaches checking in with each other using the mood meter, and giving students the opportunity to self-evaluate their emotions and behaviors throughout our program. Those are the two things that I think make us stand out as such a successful program: A strong connection to our host school and a social-emotional focus.
How have the relationships between students and coaches changed/grown throughout the school year?
Everyone was so shy on our first day back in October! No one is shy now. Not only are the students close and comfortable with their own coaches, but they are comfortable with the other coaches in their group as well. This is especially thanks to our reading performance practices, which give students the chance to work with more than one coach.
Another great marker of success is how excited students get to read the shout outs at the beginning of the day and to celebrate their own progress. It makes my heart swell! It’s also been really cool to see how coaches try to build practices to meet their students halfway, such as creating a reading reward, taking a game break or going for a short hallway walk. Every pair has their own ritual, and every pair is seeing really great results.
I’m very proud of this Team Read family. I feel like we’ve really made it when both the teens and coaches band together to poke fun at me and my jokes… that happens a lot, and that’s when you know we’re doing okay! Any group that can laugh together is a strong group.
What’s been your favorite thing about being a Team Read site coordinator?
I love being able to cultivate community and friendship with my 4th grade students and their high school coaches. The syllabus we use definitely gives me room to be creative too, which I love. We try to start each session by circling up, checking with each other, playing a game, doing shout outs, answering questions, and creating a goal for the week. My favorite part of the day, though, has to be checking in with my high school team after programming ends. Those teenagers are cool! They care so much about their students, are hilarious, and have great ideas on how to improve themselves and our work together. As is the case with most things, the people are what make my job so much fun.
How do you think school and after school program closures will impact students who are behind in reading? Any suggestions for things they can do during the hiatus to maintain their reading skills?
Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about this. Our students have made so much progress this year, and I want to be sure they are able to keep that momentum going. I think expecting a bit of a “summer slide” situation in their reading is okay, and we’re hoping we will still have some time with them before the end of the school year. That said, we’ve been working all year to give our students the tools to practice reading on their own. Hopefully, this gives them a chance to put those skills to use. I think the best suggestion I can give is to help your kid find a book or some sort of reading that looks fun and excites them. Continuing to build that association between reading and enjoyment is huge. We are ultimately working to give our students the joy of reading and, thankfully, that work can continue at home!