Summer school felt like a grind this year. My job was to implement intensive small group literacy instruction with struggling kindergarten students. I worked with seven groups of three kids, back-to-back, for 3 ½ hours. I pushed myself hard to fully prepare each lesson so that sessions would click along quickly and transitions between each group would take only a minute or two. All that prep required many extra hours. As much as I enjoyed the children, I felt burned out. I began to regret spending most of my summer working.
Yesterday I started formally evaluating students. One little boy, Jacob, began the summer refusing to even point at a word and he said things like, “I don’t want to read. I don’t like it.” When I assessed Jacob on Monday he said, “I can really read now!” and “I think my reading muscles grew!” I needed to hear him say those words as he smiled and looked like he could climb a mountain. I needed to see that candle flicker in his eyes as he sat tall in his chair. I needed to watch him skip down the hallway in his flip flops announcing to every passerby, “Hey, I got smarter!”