Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Daily Grind

"I can't find my place on the tape."
"That's as good as it's going to get."
"I can't say that right."

These are just some of the phrases I hear a million times a day. And each time, I must patiently help my student find their place on the tape, encourage them that I KNOW they can do better, or admonish them to stop worrying about the pronunciation of words, and focus on the meaning.
It's part of my job as a tutor for reading improvement with a methodology that is contrary to what most people learned in school. I work with adults who are often embarrassed about their reading skills and many times speak limited English. (but NOT always) It's not that they can't read, it's just that they were labeled as "poor readers" in school and reading has always been both a tremendous chore and a source of shame. It doesn't have to be that way. In fact I feel pretty passionately that it doesn't have to be that way. I believe in what I do, I've seen lives changed. I've seen people go from being relunctant to read out loud to their kids to doing it enthusiastically. I've watched people confidently read passages without error, that would have been impossible for them when they started the program. I've heard my students talk about how they read for pleasure for the first time in their lives or how they now read the mail that comes to their house that they ignored before.

Maybe you're thinking, wow what a great job! You really get to make a difference!

I don't always feel that way. Because the company has made this program mandatory, many students, who already associate reading with all things bad, drag their feet. Sometimes they yell. They complain bitterly. They demand to know why I'm qualified. (have I ever mentioned that I look 15?) They "forget" to come and force me to call their supervisors. Sometimes I get tired of the tedious work, the repetition that is so important to succeeding with this program. And to my great shame, sometimes I lose patience.

So today, one of my students couldn't come. I'm reading random blog posts and I come across this one. It's about improving literacy in your children. And I snap out of the mega funk I've been in. I feel a jolt of emotion, feeling, and I must say something. I must speak up about reading, because I've seen a different side to the reading debate. And the best time to prevent reading problems is before a child learns to read. I feel a renewed sense of purpose in what I am doing in this period of my life. A new sense of passion.

How often is life like that? It's absolutely no wonder that in Galatians Paul says, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. " (NLT) We do grow weary even when we know in our heads and hearts that what we do matters and that is it important. It is easier to become cynical and jaded and to stop putting our hearts into it.

For me anyway.


Scribbit said...

Thanks for mentioning my post, I'm glad you liked it--and you're right, helping someone (especially a child) learn something is so rewarding. That's probably what I love about being a mother.

Chaotic Hammer said...

And the sad but real truth about the world that we live is that way more often than not, those who are really doing the important things and having an impact, like mothers and teachers, are underpaid, under-appreciated, under-praised, and under-recognized, while people who do silly things with little lasting value (Academy Awards, anyone?) get massive amounts of praise and recognition heaped onto them, and get to sit around with the rich, famous, and beautiful people of the world and be told how wonderful they are.

But consider this: The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the Lord sees it all, and will see to it that justice is done in the end.

I'm thinking it will be worth the wait, even though it's hard to see that right now.

yzorderrox said...

Interesting. I like this one the best from the link:

13. Keep tabs on current interests and look for books on subjects your child shows interest in, particularly non-fiction. Dinosaurs, space, whales, foreign languages, horses, cooking, crafts, sports, etc.

Also, and semi-related: I apologize for not yet sending the Harry Potter book. I will send it this week.
Also, I've been getting ahead in German and got a full short story to read. Should be fun - as I can barely formulate a sentence....

Amy said...

thanks for stopping by!

Chaotic hammer,
I agree that things like the Academy Awards are blown way out of proportion. While it's nice to recogonize the artistic endeavors of some, must we as a culture really be obsessed? did the German story go???

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